Protest returns to Andijan

By bne IntelliNews July 24, 2012

Clare Nuttall in Almaty -

A rare instance of public protest in tightly-controlled Uzbekistan took place on July 23, with as many as 2,000 reported to have joined a demonstration in Andijan, the Fergana Valley town where several hundred protesters were shot dead in 2005.

Protests are extremely uncommon in Uzbekistan, where political action is tightly controlled, and additional security forces are understood to have already moved into Andijan and blocked off the site of the demonstration. People took to the streets to demand compensation for housing demolished in 2011 to make way for reconstruction of the town, according to independent news website Uznews.

The protest took place in the Kurgan-yer district, one of the worst affected areas. Former residents were ousted from their homes, but say they were not offered compensation or alternative accommodation. Since 2011, some have been housed in hostels, while others have been forced to move in with relatives.

This is the second protest on the issue in the last two weeks. Uznews reports that the authorities have so far responded calmly and promised to resolve the issue. The Andijan regional governor Akhmatjon Usmanov is reported to have offered compensation of around $17,500 per person. However, additional security forces have also been deployed to the town, and the site of the protest blocked off by police.

Andijan has been under government scrutiny since a series of mass protests sparked by worsening economic conditions in the town in May 2005. The protests were brutally put down by security forces, who opened fire on the crowd on May 13, killing several hundred people. The exact number of people killed in the Andijan massacre, the worst outbreak of violence in Uzbekistan's recent history, is not known because of a media blackout following the unrest.

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