Author`s name Ольга Савка

The uprising in Uzbekistan takes national scale, 745 reportedly killed

As long as people bury their relatives, the situation will remain quiet for a week

The buildings of the local police station, the regional administration and the tax inspection are on fire in the Uzbek town of Ilichevsk. A massive rally continues in the center of the town.

The protesters are holding a high-ranking official of the Andijan regional administration, who was trying to negotiate with them in the morning. Leaders of the meeting say that they are controlling the situation in the town. They appointed group leaders to provide law and order in the area, and there will be no mess in Ilichevsk, an eyewitness told RIA Novosti news agency.

The only organization that ventured to count the exact number of victims in the Uzbek towns of Andijan and its suburb Pakhtaabad, is called “Ozod Dehkonlar,” which translates as “Free Peasants.” Members of this party walk from door to door and put down names of the people that were killed in the uprising. The party's leader Nigara Khidoyatola, said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper that the preliminary death toll in Uzbekistan was estimated at 745 people.

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Local residents continue looking for their relatives' bodies and burying them. “There were 542 names in the Andijan list as of yesterday's night. The list of Pakhtaabad counts 203 names, including women and children. The registration of the victims has not been completed yet,” the “Free Peasants” leader said.

”Counting the number of victims is absolutely necessary. Uzbek President Karimov stated during his official speech that the uprising had left only 100 in killed. Here is a simple example. An 18-year-old male resident of Andijan, Khasan Sardar, was shot dead in the back of the head. The young man did not go to any rallies. He simply went out to buy some bread. Khasan's body was returned to his relatives. The body was marked as the 204th,” Nigara Khidoyatola said.

”I was expecting a revolt in Uzbekistan. I just did not think that it would happen so fast. The government was not expecting it either. Everybody forgot that the history of Fergana Valley is rich with massive uprisings. As long as people bury their relatives, the situation will remain quiet for a week. Local mutinies will resume again afterwards, although they will most likely be of smaller scale in comparison with the events in Andijan. The government will be brutally suppressing the protests, and the matter will eventually be finished with a violent outbreak of national indignation,” the leader of the Uzbek opposition said.

”Andijan was not the first town in the republic, where a riot occurred. It originally started in the town of Dzhizak, when local authorities took land away from local farmers. Farmers took to the streets, overturning vehicles and setting them on fire. The police fled. The government was forced to return the land to the farmers and the conflict ended,” the leader of “Free Peasants” said.

Nigara Khidoyatola said that local residents supported the rebels. “About 30 percent of capable population are unemployed. However, the class of officials enjoys unimaginable privileges and incomes in Uzbekistan. The parliament has not been discussing the budget of the republic since 1999. All opposition parties in Uzbekistan are banned. The government strictly controls mass media. It is not allowed to criticize the literary work of President Karimov. It is not allowed to write that the whole USSR was recreating Uzbekistan's Tashkent after the disastrous earthquake of 1966. Not a word can be said either about corruption or opposition. The word “president” is supposed to be capitalized always,” the leader of the party said. ”The monarchical republic of Uzbekistan is cracked. Uzbekistan has become one of the world's poorest countries over the recent 15 years,” Khidoyatola said.

”Free Peasants” was established at the end of December 2003. The party makes the opposition to the government of Uzbekistan, although it has not been registered in the republic's Justice Ministry, Interfax says. The party currently unites 100,000 members, mainly Fergana Valley residents. It is a secular party, which has nothing to do with Islam.

Photos by AFP