Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Death Toll in Uzbekistan Getting Higher--Newsweek Suspected 

freedom_3 In our good friend Uzbekistan, where non-governmental reports have leaked out about the massacre of over 500 men, women, and children, where estimates by the opposition there have been revised into the 700s, and where Karamov's tools took a European and Asian delegation on a whitewashed tour of some irrelevant area of the town where the deaths did NOT occur to spare their delicate feelings. Interior Minister Zakirdzhon Almatov channeled the Scott McClellan/Ari Flesicher School of Press Wrangling:
"(Almatov repeated the) government insistence that it was rebels, not Uzbek troops, who were behind last week's slaughter.
"Some media are saying the Uzbek government opened fire on peaceful demonstrators. But where do you see peaceful demonstrators? How dare you say those were peaceful civilians," Almatov barked at reporters."
But the reaction of the US has been firm and admirable. Condoleeza Rice was quoted as warning Karamov that if the site was not opened up to American and UN inspections for confirmation, and if Karamov did not agree to step down peaceably, we would have no choice but to pursue other measures to stop the atrocities and ensure freedom for the oppressed citizenry.

Oh, no, wait...wrong country. In fact, this is what Richard Boucher of the State Department, who agonized so over the riots and deaths in Afghanistan, had to say about it:
"We are deeply disturbed by the reports that the Uzbek authorities fired on demonstrators last Friday [13 May]," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "We certainly condemn the indiscriminate use of force against unarmed civilians and deeply regret any loss of life. We have urged -- had urged, and continue to urge -- the Uzbek government to exercise restraint, stressing that violence cannot lead to long-term stability. And we've made that point with senior Uzbek authorities in Washington and Tashkent."
Boucher also condemned the actions of armed civilians who attacked a military barracks and prison in Andijon and occupied a regional administration building in the city. He said nothing justifies acts of violence or terrorism. And he said Washington remains concerned that members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the U.S. recognizes as a terrorist group, had escaped or been freed.
He said Washington has been disappointed by the pace of reform in Uzbekistan.
"The stability in Uzbekistan ultimately depends on their government reaching out to the citizenry and instituting real reforms -- political reforms, economic reforms, the rule of law -- and addressing its human-rights problems. We're disappointed in the degree of progress we've seen, and we will continue to work with the Uzbeks to address all these areas," Boucher said."
Yes, they've been reaching out. This is how well they've been "working with them".

Can we blame this on Isikoff, too?

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