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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Uzbek activists held in new sweep
By Monica Whitlock
BBC News, Tashkent

Saidjahan Zainabiddinov shows cartridge case outside his apartment in Andijan, Uzbekistan May 16, 2005
Activist Saidjahan Zainabiddinov is one of those being held
Armed police have arrested 28 people planning to hold a protest rally in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, as part of a continuing crackdown on dissent.

The officers raided an apartment before dawn, taking away the owner, well-known opposition figure Vasilia Innoyatova, and 27 others.

The group had been planning to hold a small rally to protest about the killings in Andijan two weeks ago.

Hundreds reportedly died when troops fired on an anti-government protest.

The government says those who died were members of an extremist Islamist group, and is taking a hard line against anyone challenging this version.

President Islam Karimov refused to meet a group of US senators who came to Tashkent on Sunday to push for an international inquiry.

Most populous central Asian former Soviet republic, home to 26m people
Ruled since 1991 independence by autocrat Islam Karimov
Accused by human rights groups of serious abuses, including torture
Rocked by violence in capital Tashkent in 2004
Government says radical Islamic groups behind violence

They did meet Mrs Innoyatova just hours before she was detained.

In Andijan itself, most residents are still too frightened to talk openly, but some say, quietly, that the security forces are making night raids on the houses of anyone who might have been among the crowd, or other witnesses.

One family told us that militia in riot masks burst their door and took away their son for interrogation.

Others report that their sons have been arrested while searching at a hospital for relatives still missing two weeks on.

The atmosphere generally in Uzbekistan is still one of shock and fear about what happened in Andijan, and worry about what the future may hold.


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