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Uzbekistan looking to the future

May 17, 2005

ANDIJAN EVENTS: TRUTH AND LIES

AS IT WAS

Remarkably cynical news broadcasts appear sometimes in the mass media. This is especially true of the events in Andijan, when transmissions sometimes went beyond the limits of truth, flouting common sense, professional ethics and elementary human decency.

A group of 30 criminals armed with automatics and pistols invaded Andijan in cars at midnight and attacked the patrol post, shooting four militia, and seizing more automatics and grenades. Then using the element of surprise, they attacked the military headquarters and shot five soldiers and officers, seizing yet more automatics and two machineguns.

They then rammed the isolator gates with a Zil-130 and freed 600 prisoners, some of whom joined them. Splitting up into three groups, they shot and took hostages, including women and children, setting alight cars, and moving on to the provincial hokimiat, the internal affairs and national security service building. But security forces resisted. The militants took control of the hokimiat and put snipers on the roof. There were mobile phone calls: the criminals phoned relatives and demanded that they bring their families to the hokimiat at once. By morning there were several hundred people - old people, women and children. Some journalists and human rights defenders call this a ‘peaceful demonstration’. Let us leave these words to their conscience. The criminals simply surrounded themselves with a human shield and hoped to remain there for a long time.

At dawn on Friday the 13th the presidential delegation arrived at Andijan airport. President Islam Karimov assessed the situation, gave the order to the arriving troops to hold the course and blockade the center of the city at a distance from the hokimiat so as not to provoke the terrorists to harm the hostages, and to start negotiations. The talks were by telephone between the criminals and the internal affairs officials. They took place from 8 am to almost 7 pm. To prevent the deaths of peaceful citizens, the authorities were even ready to free the terrorists, offering them a bus. But the criminals made one after another impossible demand and the negotiations reached a dead-end. When they demanded to free imprisoned leaders of extremist organizations and fly them in to Andijan, it was clear that a clash was inevitable.

After 11 hours of negotiations, the criminals tried to break through the encirclement, and covering themselves with hostages and peaceful citizens, they did this in three columns. The authorities pursued and destroyed them as they traveled through the city.

WHO IT WAS

The version about ‘peaceful citizens’ who came out onto the streets with naïve protests does not stand up. But it is stubbornly spouted by some media. The terrorists of course try to present themselves as snow white. But when journalists from respectable western papers do this, it is puzzling. It amounts to garbling the news when one honorable TV station reports from Andijan with pictures of March meetings and street disturbances in Kyrgyzstan, while another uses archival footage taken seven years ago during the armed conflict in Khodjand in Tajikistan. A female jounalist of a well known information agency in inexplicable delight reported that all the legal organs of Andijan fled precisely at the moment when the blockade of the terrorists by the special forces and military were paralyzed at a distance, awaiting the outcome of the negotiations.

In this context, consider the wonderful evaluation of an expert in ‘information wars’, the well known Russian political scientist and professor of the Diplomatic academy of the Russian Foreign ministry Igor Panarin. He writes: “The western media made a live report from Beslan, using the great grief of the people to make a sensation and accuse the Russian authorities of incompetence. Such attempts were made in Andijan. Judging by the western media today, they are like an informational attack squad. Some Russian media in crisis situations are under foreign direction… But the absolutely correct actions of the Uzbek authorities in blockading negative information led to a quick normalization of the situation. Western media (and some Russian) and their sponsors were not ready for this.”

Once upon a time, God created our world out of chaos. Today we witness attempts by certain parties to create chaos from peace, to turn terrorists into heroes or victims, and the state’s actions to defend citizens into state terrorism. Such schemes not only convince TV audiences and readers, but respected statesmen. For instance the British Foreign minister Jack Straw, who expressed his concern that ‘Uzbek troops opened fire on demonstrators’ and who called for ‘restraint in resolving the situation.’ I don’t know what would remain of his celebrated British restraint if he were a hostage facing the bandits’ automatics in the Andijan hokimiat!

But there are other positions in the world, other understandings of the causes of the events, and sympathy for the Uzbek people. For instance, the head of Russian foreign affairs Sergei Lavrov: “I don’t think that any country would tolerate the presence of foreign powers who seize arms, use force, take over state buildings and hostages. A self-respecting state would take measures to realize its right to self-defense. We know that a violent attack involves great loss of life, and we extend the very sincerest sympathy to the relatives of those who were killed.”

What happened in Andijan was a carefully planned action intended to overthrow the constitutional order of our country. Specialists say that its preparation took from three to six months. Those that speak of its spontaneous character should know that several days before it took place, the special forces of several countries amassed forces on the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, composed of religious radicals, including the Taliban. One of those who attacked the military post had a detailed map of it. A group of religious extremists from Akromiya living in Tashkent province, left for Andijan on May 7 to take active part in the action. Extremists from other regions were found in Andijan. There were representatives of various nationalities and states. When the hokimiat was seized, special forces determined that a number of telephone calls were made to other states, including Afghanistan. They weren’t just saying hello.

The organizers and executers of the May 13 tragedy were united not only by religious extremism. They were united by hatred and rejection of the constitutional, civil path of our development, chosen by the people of Uzbekistan since independence. This hatred was smashed in Andijan by the hardness of state power, the bravery of officers and soldiers, the restraint and wisdom of millions of simple Uzbeks.

“People’s Voice” NewsPaper