Analysis, Central Asia, Featured

The Andijan Massacre and the Absence of Justice

This article was first published in 2014.

Today, May 13th 2017 marks 12 years since the horrific massacre in the city of Andijan where thousands of unarmed men, women and children who had gathered for a protest against the repressive policies of the Uzbek regime were slaughtered in cold blood by security forces on the order of the butcher of Tashkent, President Karimov. Government gunmen fired indiscriminately and mercilessly that day at the demonstrators, making no distinction between men and women, nor young and old, even executing wounded people where they lay. Muqaddus, an eye-witness to the massacre told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, “…they shot and killed the wounded….In my presence, they shot down a woman with two small children.” In the aftermath of this bloodbath, Karimov not only blocked any inquiry into this murderous crime but in the months and years that followed, pursued a campaign of harassment, detention, and torture of any protestors or witnesses to the massacre to elicit false testimonies of what they had witnessed that day. There was also a crackdown on human rights defenders, political activists, and independent journalists in the country, to prevent investigation and reporting on this brutal crime.



Human Rights Watch published a video entitled, “Uzbekistan: Decade of Impunity for Massacre” addressing how over the last 10 years, neither Karimov or any of his henchmen have faced justice for the crime they executed in Andijan, nor for their continuing brutal and ceaseless repression of the Muslims of Uzbekistan. It discussed how Western governments for over a decade now have failed to use their political leverage to hold the Uzbek regime to account, echoing the words contained in its 2005 report, “Burying the Truth: Uzbekistan Rewrites the Story of the Andijan Massacre” in which it stated, “… it is becoming increasingly unlikely that government forces will ever be held accountable for any of the killings of May 13…. In fact, in the face of utter defiance by the Uzbek government, both the U.S. and the European Union appear to have backed off entirely rather than implement a more robust strategy to hold the Uzbek government accountable for the loss of life.”

How can it be that for 10 years now, those whose hands are dripping with the blood of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women and children have never been brought to justice? How can it be that the murderer Karimov was sworn back into office last month to continue unabated and with impunity his venomous campaign of persecution and torture of the survivors of this massacre and the families of those who died, as well as others who oppose his oppressive rule? Indeed, under today’s world order where justice is all too often subject to the vested political and economic interests of the dominant Western and Eastern capitalist states, this is not surprising. Despite having full knowledge of Karimov’s crimes, both the US and the European Union (EU) have deepened their relationship with this butcher for the sake of financial benefits and because the regime played a crucial role as a strategic partner in their ‘War on Terror’ against Muslims and Islam. In 2007, the EU dropped its call for an international investigation into the Andijan massacre from the sanctions criteria on the country and in 2009 lifted its sanctions all together, including removing its arms embargo. This March, Germany signed a 2.8 billion euro trade package with the Uzbek regime. The Kremlin has been providing billions in military aid to Karimov and other Central Asian states for years. And this January, the US announced that Uzbekistan would receive over 300 mine-resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and 20 armoured recovery vehicles.

Indeed, under the current capitalism dominated world order, ‘Justice’ is a term that fills the speeches of politicians but remains elusive to the Muslim victims of mass-murder as proven by the blood-baths in Srebrenica, Gaza, Rabaa al-Adawiya, Burma, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Central African Republic – whose perpetrators, whether individuals or governments, have still not faced punishment for their crimes. Dependence upon Western governments and the international community (whose conscience reaches only as far as the dollar does) to ensure accountability for such acts of murder will eternally prove futile. Indeed, the International Criminal Court has become a graveyard for cases of those seeking justice for the war crimes committed against them and their families. Hence, under the current capitalist world order, where principle stances are absent, and justice and the sanctity of human life is traded between states like a commodity in exchange for favours and benefits, bringing those rulers and regimes who execute mass-murder and repression to account will remain a distant dream for the victims of these crimes. This is regardless of the extensive efforts and good will of human rights organisations.

Justice will only be served and perpetrators of the Andijan massacre and other blood-baths against Muslims will only be brought to account through the establishment of the Khilafah based upon the method of the Prophethood. It is this state that truly values justice and the sanctity of human life. Furthermore, its principles cannot be bought by the highest bidder. This is because it is a system based upon the Laws of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and hence truly looks after the dignity, wellbeing and needs of humanity as well as the interests of Islam and the Muslims. Therefore, it is upon the establishment of this state that Karimov and all those tyrant rulers who have oppressed and shed the pure blood of the believers will face the severest punishment for all their brutal crimes.

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُحَآدُّونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥۤ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ فِى ٱلۡأَذَلِّينَ ڪَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَأَغۡلِبَنَّ أَنَا۟ وَرُسُلِىٓ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌ۬

“Those who oppose Allah and His Prophets will be amongst those most humiliated. Allah has decreed: “My Prophets and I will be victorious”: for Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty.”

(Al-Mujadilah: 20-21)


Dr. Nazreen Nawaz

Director of the Women’s Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir