Trial Begins Of Suspects Charged Following Violent Clashes In Uzbekistan's Sokh Exclave

FERGHANA, Uzbekistan -- Twenty-two people have gone on trial in Uzbekistan's volatile Sokh exclave within neighboring Kyrgyzstan for allegedly being involved in mass disorder.

Media reports on November 11 said that the Ferghana regional court in eastern Uzbekistan started the trial on November 9.

Parents of one of the defendants in the case, 19-year old Firdaus Ahrorov, confirmed to RFE/RL that they had attended the trial's first hearing.

They added that, due to coronavirus precautions, only two relatives of each defendant were allowed to attend the proceedings, and that the trial will resume on November 16.

The defendants were charged with blocking an official from carrying out their duties and taking part in altercations that erupted in late May between residents of Sokh and Kyrgyzstan's Kadamjai district, with thousands of people involved and several houses burned down on each side.

In total, 187 Uzbek nationals were hospitalized with various injuries, including three persons with gunshot wounds.

Kyrgyz authorities said at the time that 25 Kyrgyz nationals had been injured in the clashes, four of whom needed hospitalization.

The incident started after locals of the Kyrgyz village of Chechme and residents of the Uzbek village of Chashma argued about the ownership of a spring located in the area.

When Ferghana's regional governor, Shuhrat Ganiev, arrived at the site, he was attacked and pelted with stones.

Many border areas in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.