This month marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic events in Andijan, Uzbekistan. On the night of May 12th, 2005, unidentified individuals seized weapons from a local police garrison, stormed the city prison, and released several hundred inmates. The armed men reportedly attacked a regional administration building and took hostages.
According to press reports, on May 13th, 2005, a crowd of several thousand civilians, mostly unarmed, gathered in the square in front of the same regional administration building. The demonstrators called for an end to repression and economic hardship. That evening, according to some eyewitnesses, Uzbekistan security forces fired without warning and indiscriminately into the crowd. Estimates of the number of people killed vary widely, ranging from one-hundred-eighty to over seven-hundred.
The government of Uzbekistan maintains that the uprising was an attempted coup by Islamic extremists. Human rights monitors say Islamic extremism is being used by Uzbek authorities as a pretext for repression.
The United States continues to call for an independent, international investigation of the Andijan events, says State Department spokesman Adam Ereli:
"A year after the tragic events in Andijan, the government of Uzbekistan still owes the victims and survivors a full accounting of what took place. Numerous eyewitness reports of security forces shooting and killing several hundred men, women, and children have not been adequately addressed. The United States again calls on the government of Uzbekistan to allow for a full, credible, and transparent international investigation into Andijan."
Since the Andijan events, the government of Uzbekistan has cracked down on civil society groups and press freedom. The U.S. is urging Uzbek President Islam Karimov to cease the repression and take steps to uphold Uzbekistan's human rights commitments. A process of political and economic reform is the only path to stability for Uzbekistan.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.