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Uzbek Protesters Beaten And Detained In Capital

Two of the protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent on 3 May Tashkent, 4 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Some 100 demonstrators who had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent on 3 May to protest poverty, unemployment, and human rights violations were beaten and detained by police last night, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service and reported.

The protestors, many of them from rural parts of Kashkadarya Province, threatened to set up a tent city in the Uzbek capital for a long-term demonstration. But police encircled the demonstrators and a clash broke out. Several of the protesters were beaten and some were bloodied. They were then boarded onto buses and taken to an unknown location. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Protestors told that they chose to demonstrate outside the U.S. Embassy because they have lost faith in local authorities and want to draw the U.S. State Department's attention to deteriorating conditions in Uzbekistan. "Having trusted [Uzbek President Islam] Karimov's promises, we were left with nothing," a protestor told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service. "We can't study. We have no food to eat. We were left on the street with nothing."

Many of the protesters are relatives of Bakhodir Choriev, a farmer whose private farm was taken over by authorities in 1999. Choriev was arrested several times for protesting the seizure of his farm. He was later granted asylum in the United States.