Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Official Arbitrariness Again Driving Uzbeks to Commit Suicide by Self-Immolation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 5 – One of the most disturbing developments of the last years of Soviet power in Uzbekistan was a flood of suicides by self-immolation by women felt they had no other way of protesting what was being taken away from them. Now, Uzbeks both women and men are killing themselves in this way and for the same reasons.

            At the end of the 1980s, Uzbek wrier Adyl Yakubov warned that this manner of suicide is the clearest indication of the despair many felt then ( That such self-immolations are once again on the rise thus calls into question some of the optimism about Uzbekistan that many have felt since the death of Islam Karimov.

            “Over the last two or three years, there have been more than ten cases of self-immolation and two more failed attempts,” the AsiaTerra portal reports. “All the victims both those who are now invalids and those who died are people who suffered which trying to defend their property” against state confiscation (

            The portal describes each of these personal tragedies, but they have this in common. Officials have demanded that people leave their residences on various pretexts, sometimes because the building is said to be unsafe or because streets are to be widened. The residents resist and when they conclude they cannot win, they turn to suicide by self-immolation.

            In most cases, the portal suggests, there were alternatives that officials did not pursue or offer the residents. Instead, they proceeded bureaucratically and often in a high-handed fashion; and, when people did set themselves afire, often looked on without doing anything to help them. Only the neighbors of the victims tried to extinguish the fires or take victims to hospital. 


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