Monday, May 09, 2005
Uzbekistan bans protest in south
Women who participated in demonstrations that shook the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, this week, were prevented by authorities from marching on a regional centre in southern Uzbekistan, protestors said on Friday.
"We were planning to march to the administrative centre of the [Kashkardarya] region demanding the release of our men who were arrested in Tashkent after police broke up our protest outside the US embassy," Zulayho Charieva, 29, told IRIN. "But all women were taken away to the police office on Thursday morning and kept for a whole day," she added.
More than 50 protestors, including women and children, began occupying land outside the US embassy on Tuesday, demanding the government return their farms and property in the southern Kashkadarya region. Other demonstrators called for the right to asylum in the US to escape what they describe as a campaign of harassment against them by the authorities. They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev, along with other officials.
More than a hundred special police broke up the protest camp at midnight on Tuesday, assaulting some of those involved and then busing them back to their hometowns.
"We begged them not to beat us saying to the police that we were ready to stop the demonstration, but there was no mercy. All men and women were repeatedly beaten by police and plain clothes security people armed with truncheons. Our children were thrown into the buses like animals," said Charieva. "We were insulted and humiliated all the way down to Kashkadarya. Since then we haven't seen our men and don't know what happened to them," she added.
Most of the protestors were relatives of entrepreneur Bahadir Chariev, whose lucrative farm had been repossessed by the state. Chariev himself was granted asylum in the US in January after being harassed and arrested several times as a result of efforts to get his farm back, which he acquired in 1999.
Registan.net has a good summary of press coverage of the Uzbek protests.