Islam Karimov is the only president that Uzbekistan has ever had. He has been in office since 1990 and continues as "president" to this day. On this day, May 13, 2005, his Uzbek Interior Ministry (MVD) and National Security Service (SNB) troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan in Uzbekistan.
Estimated fatalities range from 187 to nearly 2000. The bodies of many of those who died were allegedly hidden in mass graves following the massacre, or were thrown into the Karasu River. It is also alleged that 18 flights took 35 or more bodies from Andijan out of the city. Support for the government, particularly from Russia and China, allowed the regime to avoid international investigations. It should also be noted that, since 2001, the US was in desperate need for Uzbekistan's Karshi-Khanabad airbase and access to Afghanistan. On July 29, 2005, amid strained relations caused by the May 2005 unrest in Uzbekistan, the United States was told to vacate the base within six months. It was vacated by the United States in November 2005.
One interpretation of the civil unrest and slaughter is an inter-clan struggle between the Tashkent-Ferghana clan alliance and the rival Samarkand clan. Other theories include political conflict between secular absolutist powers and Islamic fundamentalists.
Thomas E. Keefe
Assistant Professor of Humanities,