Uzbek singer on trial for song about massacre

By Kate Thomas 
Published: 01 August 2006

A dissident musician who recorded a pop song about the
government of Uzbekistan's failure to recognise the
severity of the Andijan massacre has gone on trial for
slander in the central Asian republic. 

Dadakhon Khasanov, who composed "Andijan" in the
aftermath of the uprising which was brutally put down
by Uzbek authorities, is accused of insulting
President Islam Karimov, and of infringing upon the
national constitution.

The trial opened at the city court in Tashkent
yesterday morning, but was adjourned within minutes
when defence lawyer Surat Ikramov demanded that the
song's lyrics be examined by linguists.

"They want to keep my tongue tied, so I don't write
songs against this dictatorship," Mr Khasanov said.

The 66-year-old singer, who has been under house
arrest since April, composed the track days after
government troops opened fire on crowds of
demonstrators on 13 May, 2005.

It is unclear how widely the song was distributed;
certainly widely enough for an off-duty police officer
to initiate the proceedings after hearing it on a bus.
One radio station, US-funded Radio Liberty, played the
track every time it reported on the incident in

While the Uzbek government insists that fewer than 200
died in Andijan, Human Rights Watch says "bullets were
falling like rain" and that hundreds of demonstrators
were gunned down.

The lyrics of "Andijan" read: "Don't say you haven't
seen how Andijan was drowned in blood ... The victims
fell like mulberries, the children's bloodied bodies
were like tulips."

Mr Khasanov, who began his artistic career in the
1960s, was often at odds with Soviet authorities and
was briefly arrested in 1976. In the early 1990s, he
became one of the founders of opposition Birlik party,
which has been banned by Mr Karimov's government.

Mr Karimov has ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist
since 1989, wiping out dissent and eliminating
opposition. He continues to reject calls for an
international inquiry into the Andijan uprising. 


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