Population of the Andizhan region of Uzbekistan staged a protest action
A demonstration took place in the Ok-Jer mahallja [district] of Andizhan, its residents protesting against regular gas and electric power outages. About 30 young girls and women cradling infants and toddlers blocked the highway. They said they had been forced to stage the protest action by absence of gas and daily power outages.
As a matter of fact, problems with gas and electric power have plagued residents of Andizhan for years. It was not the first protest action of this sort. Numerous women's actions of protest in the Ferghana Valley have been regularly reported since August 2003. Pickets on highways and cordons around administrative buildings are the only options left the women enraged by chronic wage arrears, regular power outages, and frequent absence of gas.
"State officials are warm. They know no problems at all. Even if there is no gas available, they can always turn on their expensive air conditioners," protester G.A. said. "What do they care about us, right? We are fed up with futile visits to and begging with the local authorities. Collecting payment for gas is all they know about. When things sour like now, however, they hide."
The protest action lasted more than 1.5 hours but no official turned up to talk to the protesters.
"Here is their office, a minute's walk from here," one of the protesters by name of Obidova said. "We met here on purpose, you know. Look around. Not one of them has come out. They are afraid. They do not even pick up the phone."
The official on duty said that the problem was common for everyone and that pressure in gas mains had been lowered "on orders from the top".
Advised by sympathetic drivers, participants of the protest action went home after 1.5 hours of standing in freezing temperatures.