On this day May 13, 2005

The Andijan Massacre occurs in Uzbekistan when Uzbek Interior Ministry and National Security Service troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan, Uzbekistan on 13 May 2005.

Estimates of those killed on May 13 range from between 187, the official count of the government, and 5,000 people, with most outside reports estimating several hundred dead. A defector from Uzbekistan’s secret service alleged that 1,500 were killed. The bodies of many of those who died were allegedly hidden in mass graves following the massacre.

The Uzbek government at first said the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan organized the unrest and the protesters were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Critics argue that the Islamist radical label is “a pretext for maintaining a repressive state”. Whether troops fired indiscriminately to prevent a color revolution or acted legitimately to quell a prison break is also disputed.

A third theory is that the dispute was really an inter-clan struggle for state power. The Uzbek government eventually acknowledged that poor economic conditions in the region and popular resentment played a role in the uprising.

Calls from Western governments for an international investigation prompted a major shift in Uzbek foreign policy favoring closer relations with Asian nations. The Uzbek government ordered the closing of the United States air base in Karshi-Khanabad and improved ties with the People’s Republic of China, India, and Russia, all of which supported the regime’s response in Andjian.

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