Uzbek terror defendant: US behind unrest

A defendant in the ongoing trial of the alleged organizers of the May violence in Andijon, Uzbekistan, testified Sept. 26 that the US Embassy in Tashkent might have financed it, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Uzbek Service reported. Tavakkal Hojiev told the court that he heard from Qobil Parpiev, who has been identified by Uzbek authorities as one of the masterminds behind the violence, that the US Embassy provided funds for the uprising in Andijon. Queried by a lawyer for additional details, Hojiev said: “A big sum went for weapons and cars. They held a demonstration in front of the court in Andijon. There were a lot of expenses for food and clothes for the people who showed up there over the course of three months…. It was clear to everyone that the funds came from the foreign ringleaders.” AP quoted Hojiev as saying, “I was told that our people received money from the American Embassy.” The news agency reported that a US Embassy official who attended the trial, Alexander Schrank, would not comment on the allegations.

President Islam Karimov is due to meet with a high-level US delegation in Tashkent, the Washington Post reported Sept. 24. That delegation, which should include Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Daniel Fried, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James McDougall, and National Security Council senior staff member David Merkel, is set to voice concerns about human rights violations in Uzbekistan and discuss regional security issues. The report said that the delegation would not seek a reversal of Uzbekistan’s July 29 request that the United States vacate the Karshi-Khanabad air base in 180 days. (RFE/RL Newsline, Sept. 27).

A Sept. 28 commentary by RFE/RL Newsline depicts a Stalin-era show trial:

If the purpose of a trial is to establish guilt or innocence, the judicial proceedings currently under way in Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court achieved their aim on the very first day. On 20 September, court went into session and 15 men accused of active involvement in the violence that rocked Andijon on 12-13 May pronounced themselves guilty as charged — of murder, terrorism, hostage-taking, an attempt to overthrow the country’s constitutional system, and myriad other crimes. But as the fact of the trial’s continuation indicates, and as its substance has made abundantly clear, it is not about guilt, innocence, or even the actions of 15 men.

Since the defendants have already admitted their guilt, the trial has consisted primarily of their testimony. That testimony has reiterated and reinforced a version of events in Andijon presented by the Prosecutor-General’s Office to a parliamentary commission on 5-6 September and by First Deputy Prosecutor-General Anvar Nabiev at a briefing for journalists on 15 September. Boiled down to its basic elements, the proffered explanation of what happened in Andijon on 12-13 May is that a vast conspiracy involving — in no particular order — the BBC, RFE/RL, Chechen military instructors, NGOs, training camps in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and extremists linked to Al-Qaeda aimed to spark a Georgia/Ukraine/Kyrgyz-style revolution in Andijon in order to transform Uzbekistan into an Islamic state that would serve as the launching pad for a drive to establish a worldwide caliphate.

See our last post on Uzbekistan.