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Monday, August 22, 2005


Weekend protests in Samarkand

From Radio Free Europe:

Two public protests broke out this weekend in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. On 20 August, demonstrators from the city outskirts blocked roads to protest the scheduled destruction of their houses. And yesterday, hundreds of merchants angrily protested a sudden decision to relocate the city's main market. As RFE/RL reports, the Samarkand protests are the first in Uzbekistan since those that ended in a violent government crackdown in Andijon in May.

The owners of some 100 homes from the village of Bogimaydon, on the outskirts of Samarkand, said authorities gave them only a week's notice to leave their homes before they were destroyed in order to make room for a highway-extension project. They said the compensation they had been offered was far less than the market value of their homes.

In response, the residents blocked the village's main road for several hours on 20 August, holding placards reading: "Don't demolish an old house before building a new one." It is a phrase familiar to the country's authoritarian leader, Islam Karimov. He uses the expression often during speeches, and has also used it as the title of one of his numerous books.

Local human rights activists like Jamol Mirsaidov were said to be among the protesters. Protesters claimed Mirsaidov and other demonstrators were hurt when police used force to disperse the crowd. Uzbek officials have not commented on the protest.

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