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China In Eurasia by Reid Standish
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May 07, 2008 13:26 GMT
Photos by AFP, epa, and RFE/RL.
Special forces patrol the streets of Andijon in the aftermath of the brutal crackdown - On the night of May 12, 2005, armed men took over the seat of the regional administration in the Uzbek city of Andijon and assaulted a military garrison and a prison, seizing weapons and freeing prisoners. The following day, a huge demonstration gathered in the central square. The Uzbek government responded by sending in troops and armor.
Residents walk past burned cars after the clashes in Andijon - During the May 13 demonstration, government troops fired on the protesters without warning, killing hundreds, including women and children. Many of the demonstrators had gathered not to support the prison takeover, but to criticize the government and demand better social conditions.
Andijon residents carry the body of a victim of the clashes - Human rights activists later estimated that as many as 1,000 people died, mostly civilians. But Uzbek authorities put the death toll at under 200, and said the victims were mainly internationally backed extremists or government troops.
People pray near the bodies of victims after the crackdown - Some residents claimed that the authorities removed the bodies of some civilians from the scene in order to conceal the total number of deaths. For months after the clashes, some families did not know whether their missing relatives had died, fled the country, or been jailed for taking part in the demonstration.
An Uzbek refugee at a camp near the Kyrgyz border village of Barash - Hundreds of Uzbeks fled Andijon for neighboring Kyrgyzstan in the days after the violence. Kyrgyzstan initially closed its border to stop the influx, sparking further protests and unrest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) eventually granted the fleeing Uzbeks refugee status and helped them relocate to third countries.
An Uzbek woman from Andijon at a dormitory for refugees in the Czech Republic - Some refugees from Andijon resettled in Europe or North America. Many have since returned to Uzbekistan, but others continue to fear that they would face persecution back home for taking part in the demonstrations or witnessing the crackdown.
Fifteen Andijon defendants on trial at the Uzbek Supreme Court on terrorism-related charges in September 2005 - Scores of Uzbeks have faced prosecution since the Andijon events, including 15 defendants convicted of murder and terrorism-related charges in connection with the initial prison siege. But others with no ties to the original events have also been jailed on suspicious charges, including a number of journalists and human rights activists who investigated or publicized the Andijon bloodshed.
A billboard of President Karimov smiles over a street in Andijon - Uzbek President Islam Karimov has maintained that the unrest in Andijon was organized by international extremist groups with support from Islamists outside the country, and has refused to fulfill demands for an independent probe into the events. No high-ranking government officials have been held responsible for the deadly use of force.
Demonstrators protest against President Karimov at the Uzbek Embassy in Brussels on the first anniversary of the bloodshed - The European Union imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan over the Andijon events and a range of other human rights abuses, but suspended the measures after Tashkent released some of its political prisoners. Uzbek and international activists continue to push for world leaders to take a stronger stand against Karimov's government.
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