(PRAGUE, Czech Republic)
In exclusive interviews
with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, several human rights activists reported that they had been arrested or confined to their houses today in Uzbekistan's capital city, Tashkent. The activists had sought to organize a demonstration marking the fourth anniversary of a bloody government crackdown in the eastern city of Andijon. On May 13, 2005, Uzbek troops opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing around 700 people.
Human rights defender Bahodir Namozov told RFE/RL, "I just learned that five people have been arrested. I am under house arrest. I have been blockaded in my home since yesterday evening. The police followed me everywhere and warned me not to leave my house. They said if I did not obey them, they would take me into custody."
Prominent Uzbek human rights activist Surat Ikromov spoke to RFE/RL by phone while in government custody: "I was stopped [on the street] by a group of Interior Ministry anti-terrorism officers. I have been held here at the Sobir Rahimov detention center ever since."
Uzbek Human Rights Alliance leader Elena Urlaeva reported that she had been taken to the Mirzo Ulugbek district detention center, where she said she was held "because of the protest we tried to organize today. We planned to call for President Karimov to be prosecuted for gunning down peaceful demonstrators. But we were arrested just after we reached the rally site."About RFE/RL's Uzbek Service (Radio Ozodlik)
Radio Ozodlik airs six hours of programming per day to Uzbekistan. Following the Andijon crackdown, RFE/RL was forced to close its news bureau in Tashkent by the Uzbek government and currently produces all of its programs in Prague.Related linksAndijon Anniversary Rekindles Battle Over Collective MemoryPHOTO GALLERY: Legacy of Andijon