Uzbekistan. In February, a trial was initiated in the city of Andizjan in the Fergana Valley against a group of entrepreneurs arrested the year before. membership in extremist Islamic organizations. According to countryaah, Tashkent is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Uzbekistan. The detainees denied the accusations and saw the trial as politically motivated. Relatives of the defendants conducted demonstrations which continued during the spring. The protests were fueled by a deep dissatisfaction with the difficult social and economic conditions in the densely populated Fergana Valley. In May, the city prison was stormed by armed men who would exempt the entrepreneurial group, which led to all prisoners escaping. Protests increased, riots erupted and Uzbek police and military opened fire on a large crowd. According to the political opposition, several hundred civilians were killed. The regime accused militant Islamists of being behind the protests, stating that 187 people were killed and almost none were civilians. The city was closed to foreign journalists, but hundreds of residents fled from Andizan across the border to Kyrgyzstan, depicting how women and children had been mowed down while pleading for their lives.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym UZ stands for the country of Uzbekistan and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
To hide the truth about the massacre, the regime increased political oppression in Uzbekistan, human rights groups reported. Witnesses, opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalists were arrested, threatened or beaten.
The United States took part in the Western criticism of the Uzbek regime’s violence in Andhizan, and the Senate protested in payments for the US military base in Uzbekistan. Then, in July, President Islam Karimov decided to terminate the agreement with the United States, and the US forces left the country during the fall. Instead, Uzbekistan approached Russia, which supported the Karimov regime’s version that Islamic extremists were guilty of the violence in Andizan.
In September, 15 people were indicted for terrorism and for organizing riots in Andizan in the spring. All acknowledged, but human rights organizations believed that the authorities forced the acknowledgments under torture. In November, the defendants were sentenced to between 14 and 20 years in prison. The trial was criticized by The EU and the US, who believed the evidence was not credible. The EU imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan, but Karimov then strengthened ties with Russia through a mutual support treaty in the event of external aggression against either country. Under the Treaty, Russia is allowed to establish a military base in Uzbekistan.
During the fall, trials were held behind closed doors against another 58 people who were also accused of insurgency in Andizjan. The trials were initially secret but became known since human rights groups sounded alarms. All defendants were sentenced in December to between 12 and 22 years in prison.
Cotton, ikat-silk and pots
Independent Uzbekistan still provides protection to irrigation and cotton. The country is the world’s fifth largest producer of cotton and the raw material is also processed domestically. Uzbek writing skills are reflected in the square pots and the skillful textiles of the home, the suzans. Women dress in silk growing in their own country: the Central Asian style is called “ages,” where bright colors are mixed in a sliding saw blade pattern. The land is cultivated for purposes other than the textile industry, although two-thirds of Uzbekistan is uncultivable and within its borders are two deserts, Karakum in the south and Kyzulkum in the north. There are high mountains to the northeast and southeast. A fertile loess grows cereals, rice, fruits and vines. Cattle and karakull sheep have replaced Fergana’s precious horses. The soil of the poor state is rich, and Mining produces natural gas, oil, lignite and copper, among other things. Uzbekistan is also one of the largest gold producers in the world. The state has eagerly sought partners to finance the processing of raw materials domestically. Restrictions on imports and strict taxation have supported the efforts of authoritarian President Karimov.
Uzbekistan is a country of Uzbeks. They make up three-quarters of the population. Other groups include the Cossacks, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Turks. Everyone is united by Sunnah Islam and the nomadic past. The Russians called them all by the collective name “sartit”. Uzbekistan is also home to Russians, Crimean Tatars, Belarusians and Uighurs. To the south of the Aral Sea, in the western part of the country, lies the Autonomous Region of Karakalpakia, with more than a million residents speaking their own Karakalpakian language.