Wednesday, September 14, 2005
More stories from Andijan
Crowds began to gather in Bobur Square from 7am on May 13. There were some armed oppositionists around a local government building at one end, say the refugees and international organisations that have investigated the massacre, but not among the 10,000 demonstrators in the square, who included large numbers of women and children. The first shooting began at 8am, says Hakim, as government militiamen drove up, opened fire and left, during which time he saw a woman and child killed. The car was followed by a military jeep, spraying the crowd with gunfire. Then "it came from all sides," says Dolim. "We had gone expecting speeches, not bullets."
Why did they stay in the square? "Because," says Hakim, "if you tried to leave by side streets, they were blocked by armoured cars. I saw people trying to escape being killed up those streets." Anyway, says Nizomidin, "we were expecting people from the government to arrive and stop it, to save us. Someone said Karimov was on his way, and people started cheering."
Instead, at about 10am, a group of armoured cars entered the square, criss-crossing its edges and firing indiscriminately. In no way, say the witnesses, were they targeting the armed men at the other end. The shooting continued sporadically until 5pm, when two columns of armed personnel carriers arrived. "The second [column] opened fire directly at us," says Yuldash. "I saw people falling around me, women and children too; screaming and blood everywhere. I saw at least five small children killed."
The article doesn't make easy reading, but these stories need to be heard.