Radical Islamic activity in Uzbekistan: the latest events in Andijan and their connection with the Islamic Liberation Party

The events in Andijan—the state of affairs
  • The city of Andijan, located in East Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley, is home to conservative Islamic Uzbek population. The region, divided between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, has long been considered fertile ground for radical Islamic mov ements. In the middle of May 2005, riots broke out in the city, probably triggered by the local population’s growing frustration over the continuing dire economic situation and over Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s non-relenting policy towards local Islamic el ements, particularly after their att empts on his life.
  • The events climaxed early morning on Friday, May 13, 2005, when a group of some 100 gunmen broke into the local prison compound in an att empt to release 23 businessmen arrested for their alleged m embership in Akramiya, a faction that had split from the local branch of the Liberation Party (see Appendix: The activity of the Liberation Party in Uzbekistan). These events followed two days of peaceful d emonstrations held in the vicinity of the local court, where proceedings were being held against the suspects. In the wake of the prison break, about 2,000 criminal and political prisoners escaped. Subsequently, the protestors took over a local administration building and d emanded the release of other Liberation Party activists, including Akramiya faction leader Akram Yuldashev.
  • These events, in addition to the growing public unrest, raised the Uzbek leadership’s concern over the reenactment of a scenario similar to the “Yellow Revolution” that occurred in Kyrgyzstan in the spring of 2005. According to reports, local Liberation Party activists were involved in the Kyrgyzstan riots as well. Consequently, the local Uzbek authorities dispatched security forces to Andijan and blocked the entire area. Journalists in the area reported that the security forces had opened fire at the protestors, as a result of which several hundreds of protestors were killed and about 500 residents fled to Kyrgyzstan. For the time being, access to the Ferghana Valley has been restored and the situation in the area has calmed down.