May 13, 2005
In Uzbekistan a clash between protesters and government forces is simmering on the brink of open rebellion. Last night protesters stormed a jail in the eastern city of Andizhan to release 23 businessmen the government accuses of being involved with a banned Islamic group. They also freed all the prisoners there-nearly 2000 in total-took some soldiers hostage, and occupied an administrative building in the city. Today soldiers opened fire on a crowd of 4,000 protesters there, with estimates of the death toll running as high as 50. The Associated press reports that protesters controlled a large swath of the city today, but that columns and troops and armored vehicles were moving toward it. The European Union blamed the unrest on the Uzbekistan government’s failure to address widespread poverty and human rights violations. The Bush regime-which backs Uzbekistan’s authoritarian regime as a key ally in the war on terror, called for both demonstrators and the government to show restraint.
In neighboring Afghanistan, widespread protests escalated today as clashes with police left at least eight people dead. Demonstrators first took to the streets on Tuesday after Newsweek magazine reported that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay put copies of the holy Qu’ran in toilets to unsettle prisoners. The protests are by far the largest under U.S. occupation. Nazif Shaharani is a professor of anthropology at Indiana University-he says the U.S.-backed government’s violent response could further destabilize the country:
[They have confronted the demonstrators with use of force, and violence, and that obviously is not good because it is going to produce martyrs. And when you have martyrs it produces a vicious circle.]
Shaharani says the protests show the Bush Administration has squandered the goodwill it had following the invasion of Afghanistan-he attributes that to the failure to establish a democratic political system and abuses of Afghan prisoners.
New allegations are surfacing that connect the abuses at Guantanamo Bay to those in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Former Brigadier General Janice Karpinski has accused a high-ranking general who oversaw Guantanamo of introducing the most controversial torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib. Brian Zinn has more from Washington.
In Britain, the newly-elected government headed by Tony Blair has just announced its first major policy initiative–increased privatization of health services. Britain’s universal health care system has been the envy of many countries since it was established during the reform movements of the 1950s, but many fear today’s announcement is the beginning of a plan to dismantle it. From London, Naomi Fowler reports:
In Connecticut, A flurry of last-minute legal appeals failed to stop New England’s first execution in 45 years. Michael Ross was executed early this morning while some 300 opponents of the death penalty held vigil outside. Melinda Tuhus reports from the Osborne Correctional Facility in Somers, Connecticut.
Pentagon Recommends Closure of Bases and Outposts (4:09)
Today the Pentagon released its recommendations to close 33 major military bases and 775 smaller military outposts throughout the United States. President Bush has until September to consider the recommendations, which would result in the loss of tens of thousands of military positions and civilian jobs. Mitch Jeserich reports from Washington.
The Race for the Mayor of Los Angeles (4:29)
Los Angeles residents are set to head to the polls next Tuesday to select their choice for Mayor. This year’s race harks back to four years ago when the same two candidates- James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, faced each other. Hahn’s latest television ads attack Villaraigosa’s efforts at gaining clemency for a convicted drug dealer. Villaraigosa has once again, accused Hahn’s camp of launching an all-out smear campaign. Both sides accuse the other of corruption. Joining us to talk about this mayor’s race is Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.
Activists Rally at Brazilian Embassy in Wahsington (3:26)
Every day nearly 8,500 people die from AIDS. AIDS activists from around the world are calling on Brazil to keep its promise to make generic AIDS medicines more available. Ingrid Drake from the DC Radio Co-op reports from the Brazilian Embassy in DC.
French Muslims Prepare to Vote in European Constitution Referendum (3:43)
Many French Muslim organizations are in favor of the upcoming referendum on the European Constitution. Although no organizations are not taking an official position and will not call on their members to vote for or against the constitution, some members are campaigning in favor of the treaty to be voted on by French citizens on May 29. So far, only Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, who is very influential among the French Muslim middle class, has publicly called for a vote against the constitution. But as Raphaël Krafft reports from Paris, most Muslims in France will not be voting according to community beliefs.
Global Marriage in a South Indian Village Causing Problems (3:57)
Poverty and social problems have forced girls from a South Indian village into global marriage. So far, some 600 girls have married foreign tourists. While some men stick to the marriages, many of them simply leave the women and children behind. Binu Alex reports from Trivandrum.