Uzbekistan Tries to Close the Book on the Andijan Massacre

Uzbekistan continues to break new ground in absurdist dictatorship theory. According to government-banned opposition site uznews.net, Islam Karimov’s crumbling regime in Tashkent has again rejected a United Nations request to open an independent investigation into the brutal massacre of men, women and children in Andijan in 2005, an event that altered U.S. and European relations with the Soviet-era government.

Tashkent insisted first that the uprising did not happen, then that a perennial bogeyman Islamist militant group staged the entire matter, and finally settled on poor economic conditions in the region contributing to violence during a prison break. On its face, then, Tashkent should have few concerns about a UN investigation, even with the UN’s bias toward finding human rights violations everywhere but Sub-Saharan Africa and China. After all, the U.S. again treats Uzbekistan as an ally of necessity, and the European Union lifted sanctions in 2009.

Yet with Karimov’s grip on power slowly loosening as mortality does what moral suasion could not, Tashkent cannot afford any threat to whatever succession plan Karimov is currently entertaining. Uzbekistan has also promised to be good from now on, and to allow free speech and forgo torture as part of ordinary policing.

These promises are worth roughly as much as one s’om (theoretically valued at two American pennies). Even with a good information blockade in place, the old samizdat system and modern variants tend to leak information back into the country. News of yet more opprobrium on the regime could give strength to the endlessly-disorganized opposition, and the eventual handover of power could become messier.

Appropriately Soviet-Era Image Copyright Wikimedia Commons