Thursday, May 19, 2005

Demonstration this Saturday in London

Not a news item, but a call to action (if you happen to be in or near London -- the one in the UK, that is).

Demonstrate against the Uzbek massacres

- London, 12 noon, Saturday 21st May 2005

Assemble at the Uzbek Embassy, 41 Holland Park Road, London W11 3RP. Nearest tubes: Holland Park (Central Line) / Notting Hill Gate (Central/District Line).

*Support Uzbekistan's democratic opposition.

*Demand justice for the hundreds murdered by Karimov in Andizhan this week.

*Call for an end to Western support for this brutal regime.

This demonstration has been called by a group of UK-based Uzbek dissidents, and is supported by Craig Murray, Britain's former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and anti-war activists.

Confirmed attending:

*Craig Murray, Britain's ambassador to Uzbekistan until last year when he was sacked for denouncing torture in Uzbek jails.

*Johann Hari, columnist for the Independent who wrote this week about the connections between the massacre and the 'war on terror'

Last Friday hundreds of people were killed in Andijan in Uzbekistan while peacefully demonstrating. A further 200 were killed the following day in nearby Pakhtahbad.

Uzbekistan is one of the world's worst human rights abusers, with torture regularly used against political opponents of the dictator, Islam Karimov. It is also an ally of the US and UK in the 'war on terror': the US has a military base there and Karimov has received many high-level Bush administration officials in recent years, including Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks, and has visited Bush in the US. (See this page for details.)

Bush and Karimov smiling and shaking hands

Associated Press reported on Wednesday:

an AP reporter and other journalists witnessed troops opening fire on the crowd at Andijan's central square.

[Opposition politician Nigara] Khidoyatova said 542 people were killed in Andijan on Friday and another 203 people died in Pakhtabad, about 30 kilometers to the northeast, on Saturday.

"Soldiers were roaming the streets and shooting at innocent civilians," Khidoyatova said. "Many victims were shot in the back of the head."

In Pakhtabad, virtually all the victims were women and children apparently trying to flee violence by crossing into neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Khidoyatova said. Others gave similar accounts."

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