Uzbekistan: Autocratic Scar

The recent violence in Uzbekistan has resulted in greater instantaneous bloodshed in the former Soviet Union than any incident since fifteen of its republics achieved independence, except perhaps for Chechnya. Central Asia, ignored before September 11 2001, used and fought over ever since, is now making a mark – or rather, a scar – all of its own. A multitude of questions surround the event: where did the unrest come from? Are Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan inspirations? Is Kazakhstan next? Not to mention Russia with presidential elections in 2008. Is Afghanistan under the Taleban a warning of a worst-case outcome?

The World Today Published 1 June 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

The Ferghana Valley is a densely populated region of high volatility. Unrelieved poverty, increasing drug trafficking, low employment and a growing commitment to non-state sponsored forms of Islam separate it from the country at large. The violence of May 13 was confined to towns – particularly Andijon, a city of 30,000 – and villages of the Valley in the east, geographically separate from the rest of Uzbekistan. Adjacent parts of the Valley lie in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Broad grievances

A tightly controlled state, with fear and suppression as accepted instruments, the catalyst for the violence was the arrest and trial of local ‘businessmen’ connected to the non-violent and economically focused Islamic grouping, Akramiya.

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