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.
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.