10/24/2023, 09.27
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The violence of the Uzbek border guards

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The killing of two villagers in the Fergana region has brought back to the forefront the tensions with the people of Soviet-era borders that were arbitrarily drawn to better control the different ethnic groups.

Tashkent (AsiaNews) - A serious incident, which adds to many other previous cases, has sent the population of the Fergana region in Uzbekistan into turmoil, after border guards killed two inhabitants of the area in the makhalla (village) of Buston , a cluster of houses in the town of Vuadil, on the border with neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

The official statement from the Border Police states that "the subjects had violated border rules and used violence against guards while trying to cross", but the relatives of the victims provide a very different version of what happened.

The fathers of the two killed thirty-year-olds, Abdulkhaj Mukaddasov and Otabek Juldašev, are calling for those responsible for their sons' deaths to be brought to justice.

According to witnesses, on the evening of October 16 the border guards had stopped the two men together with a third, Sardorbek Sabirov, as they were returning by car from a birthday party in a Tchaikhan, a tea room in Uzbek territory, and they did not want allow them to return to the makhalla, resulting in a fight. Otabek's father, Bakhodir Juldašev, says that his son found himself among the others by chance, ending up with a smashed head.

Otabek had worked with his father all day on the farm with the horses, then accompanied his father to his parents' house, and then gave a friend a lift to his house, arriving at the moment of the fight with the police.

Being also a friend of Abdulkhaj, he tried to stop the guard who was beating him to the ground with the handle of the rifle, pulling him and brawling, which attracted a group of policemen further away, who opened fire, killing the young man with one shot to the head.

Sardorbek filmed the scene with his phone, and then went to show it to the guards' office, where he was told that "they were right to shoot him". The customs officers also claimed that there was contraband in the car of the detainees, but the videos of the search of the car deny this version.

Other testimonies state that the guards also shot other unarmed people, and that this practice is unfortunately frequent; despite the official agreements between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which have regulated the border issue, tension on the borders always remains very high, and this seems to be a constant in all Central Asian countries.

The uncertainty of the borders is a Soviet legacy, when territories were divided to better control the different ethnic groups, and the Fergana region is one of the hottest in this regard, being an area disputed by different groups since the times of the empire of tsar.

The inhabitants of Vuadil are an example of these latent conflicts, which often manifest themselves in skirmishes with border guards, especially in recent years. Police often raid houses in villages for unjustified checks and searches, using violence.

The accusation of smuggling is one of the most used to justify these repressive actions, especially when people are stopped in a state of intoxication or in any case a little excited by parties and various meetings, as in the last case, when it is easier to make accusations even without any foundation, causing exaggerated reactions.

The police statement in fact reports the altered state of the people, which forced the guards to open fire, as "they had not drawn the necessary conclusions from the order to stop, and after warning shots in the air, it was necessary to prevent the degeneration of the conflict, other people having gathered”.

The result is that now the whole village of Vuadil is in strong agitation, also due to the emotion reserved for Abdulkhaj's three children who were orphaned, while his wife is waiting for the fourth, and for Otabek's little daughter, who was also left without a father.

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