The outside world has received few accounts of life in Andijon since 12-13 May. In a series of reports broadcast on 10-12 August, RFE/RL provided a rare glimpse of the fear lurking behind the superficial normalcy that has settled over the city since the bloody events of May.
A local woman confirmed that the fear has arisen in a climate of pervasive surveillance. "People are afraid to talk," she said. "While I was riding a bus..., a woman started talking about the Andijon events. She talked about how there were brains splattered on the ground in front of the administration building and how they paid people 1,000 soms [$1] an hour to clean them up. The woman got off when she reached her house. A young guy got off after her. She didn't make it 10 meters before he handcuffed her and then they led her off somewhere."
Another woman described a similar incident. "Now there are more people in civilian clothes listening in on what people are saying," she said. "Recently, a woman was drinking carbonated water at Yangibozor [New Market] with a young child. She was telling the water vendor that the government organized the disturbances. A guy who was standing off to the side came up to the woman and pulled the woman by the hand. She started screaming. The young man pulled out a tape recorder and played back a recording of everything she'd been saying to the vendor. Then he took her away. Everyone watched."
Andijon residents told RFE/RL that torture is common, although the torturers make efforts to cover their tracks. "There's a videotape of the people who took part in the demonstration," one local said. "If the people they arrest are on the videotape, they bring them down to a cellar and beat them brutally. Even the ones who aren't on the tape get beaten. Afterward, they make them sign a statement saying that they didn't harm them before they let them go."
Another woman recounted one case of torture that ended in death of a teenager. "He went out to watch on [13 May] and got shot in the shoulder," she said. "They brought the child to a clinic. After he'd been lying there for three days, they brought him to the police. Despite his wound, they stuck him in a filthy room for three days. There were so many people there wasn't enough room to sit or lie down. They really made this poor kid suffer. Then they gave him an injection and sent him home. After that they called him in for interrogation every day. That shot they gave him must have been a lethal injection, since he died after about a month and a half. The wound never healed and his bones crumbled. The day before he died, he told how he'd been tortured. Even though it's shameful, I'll say it: They sodomized him with a piece of metal and a billy club. While the child was in the hospital, he'd told people that the soldiers shot him. When they tortured him, they said it was so that he wouldn't tell anyone else."
Another person told RFE/RL that once someone is imprisoned, appeals are useless. "They arrested my son and took him away from the house," the local said. "At the police station, he was forced to confess. His wife is at home with three children. Even if I wanted to look after them, I still have children of my own who aren't married yet. You know what the economy's like. Who's going to listen to our appeal? Who's going to defend us? We encounter oppression at every turn. The women are fed up; I mean, the women of those who are in prison. All of the adults know why the economy's so bad. Everyone's smart enough to figure it out. These men who are making life hard for the women, I wonder how they square it with their conscience. We say that our ruler is just, but I can't figure out how that's so. He's only just to those who help him. He hasn't achieved any justice for Muslims. But if people talk about this, they disappear along with their children and grandparents."
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