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Uzbek Woman Attempts Self-Immolation To Protest Demolition Of Her House

Olim Mustafoev, the father of Muqaddas Mustafoeva, suffered burns when he intervened after his daughter set herself on fire.

QARSHI, Uzbekistan -- An Uzbek woman attempted to self-immolate to protest plans by local authorities to demolish her house.

Muqaddas Mustafoeva poured gasoline on herself and set herself on fire in front of the regional prosecutor's office in Qarshi, the capital of the southern Qashqadaryo region, on February 19.

Her father, Olim Mustafoev, immediately extinguished the fire by covering his daughter with his body. He was hospitalized with burns.

Mustafoeva told RFE/RL that she wanted to attract the attention of regional and local prosecutors to plans to demolish her small house in Qoson, located about 32 kilometers northwest of Qarshi.

Her father told RFE/RL that he and his daughter came to the regional prosecutor's office in Qarshi to question the legality of the move, but guards did not allow them to enter, saying there were no officials inside.

"Because all our complaints have been rejected, my daughter attempted to set herself on fire, but I managed to stop the fire right away, but got burns myself," Mustafoev said.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev is seeking to modernize his nation -- the most populous in Central Asia, with 32 million citizens -- in part by razing old buildings, including what authorities call "illegally built houses."

The process has been fraught with problems as homeowners are sometimes given little notice before their dwellings are destroyed, leading to clashes with police.

On February 14, three people were injured, including two police officers, when a fight broke out between police and residents of a village in the southern region of Surkhondaryo.

The local inhabitants were told their "illegally” built homes would soon be demolished.