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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Angry protest in Uzbek capital
By Monica Whitlock
BBC News, Tashkent

A small group of demonstrators has held an angry, illegal protest in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

About 60 people got through tight government security to the United States embassy, where they called for justice.

Uzbekistan borders Kyrgyzstan, where anti-government forces overthrew the government in March.

The Uzbek authorities are plainly worried about the possible impact of that upheaval.

Furious protestors lined the railings opposite the US embassy, an unprecedented scene in Tashkent.

They came from one of the poorest regions of the country, slipping through formidable city security in taxis and on the metro.

Nearly all were women with small children, a safety measure against being taken away by the plain-clothes agents who stood ready.

At one point security men did move in, but the women screamed and beat them back.

From across the street, US guards in helmets and flak jackets watched.

Security has been tight since a suicide bomber blew himself up at this spot last year.

The numbers of demonstrators was small, but this is an important rally.

The protestors are demanding justice from the government which they say unfairly took possession of their profitable farm, rendering them destitute.

This is a major issue in Uzbekistan, a country of farmers, and it is far more compelling for many of the public than abstract concepts like democracy.

In March, 500 angry farmers took over a police station and burned two police cars in a similar protest.

The rally also comes at a critical time. Since the sudden fall of the Kyrgyz government there have been several different protests in Uzbekistan, including a factory strike and a hunger-strike in a prison.

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