Foreign Policy Blogs

Two years past: Andijan's heroine, witness

Laurel in Black BorderAs Nathan Hamm at reminded me, today marks the second
aniversary of the Andijan Massacre.  Central Asia watchers know that this horrific event has intensified the conduct of internal control within Uzbekistan, and changed diplomatic discourse regarding Central Asia ever since.

Andijan's heroine is Mahbuba Zokirova, the lone witness in the Andijan trials to contradict the prosecutors.  First, she gave witness to the help she received:

[The crowd] turned down this one street to get away from the shooting.   My kid was in the crowd in the middle of the shooting.  A guy who picked him up was shot.  My three year-old and my 7-8 month old were with me.  But the guy who picked up my other kid was either shot or fell down on the ground.  My kid stayed there.

I took my kid and went ahead.  “Oh, my child!” I said.  People were dying.  Shots were ringing out.  A child went running and took my kid.

Casualties of AndijanAfter hastening her family out of the city, Ms. Zokirova headed for the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan border, where her family again came under fire from Uzbekistani troops.  She was eventually forced against her will to return to Uzbekistan.  On October 14, 2005, she testified at the Andijan kangaroo-court trials that provoked international distress and EU sanctions.  Ms. Zokirova  refused to whitewash her experiences in that intimidating venue, saying to the state prosecutors:

My kids were crying.  They were all terrified.   When I remember it now, I’m scared.  (Lowers her voice.)  I’m not afraid of you.  When I remember those events, I get scared.

The transcript of her testimony is reported more fully (and above passages cited from) an RFE/RL article by Daniel Kimmage.

It is also Ms. Zokirova's birthday today, and the birthday of her daughter.

For those new to Central Asia watching, the best report on Andijan remains the one written by the International Crisis Group, and the most comprehensive reporting was done by sources at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  RFE/RL has also put together timelines of great use to scholars and policymakers; the portal page is called Aftermath of Andijon

Photos:; BBC