May 16, 2005 – a day of contrasts. The violence over protests in Uzbekistan raged on, forcing thousands to flee the country. The unconfirmed death toll in Uzbekistan from a suspected crackdown by security forces on demonstrators rose to more than 700 people today after fresh reports of killings. Government troops were suspected of killing some 500 protesters earlier while putting down an uprising in the eastern city of Andijan, which was close to the country’s border with Kyrgyzstan.
On this day, the head of a human rights group claimed that another 200 people were killed in a nearby town after the unrest spread from Andijan a day later.
Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, head of the Appeal human rights advocacy group, said government troops had killed about 200 demonstrators on Saturday in Pakhtabad, which is about 18 miles north-east of Andijan, and there have been reports of unrest in other towns. As of news time, there appeared to be no end in sight.
Further south it was another story; celebration. The Kuwaiti parliament voted on this day to give women the right to vote and to run for office — if they observed Islamic laws.
“We finally passed the law for women’s right to vote and run for office,” Mohammed Jassem al-Sager, a member of parliament, said on Monday. “This is one of the greatest achievements of all time in the Kuwaiti political arena” he added.
The government of the tiny emirate had been pushing for parliament to approve the law.
“We made it. This is history,” prominent activist Roula al-Dashti told reporters. “Our target is the parliamentary polls in 2007. I’m starting my campaign from today.”
Outside parliament, young women and men danced and cheered, Reuters reported, while passing drivers hooted horns in support. The first elections where women would be voting would be in two years. Time enough for Women to declare candidacy for office and to gather support. But in the meantime, it was cause to celebrate. Kuwait became the latest in a series of actions allowing Women the vote in the Arab world. The only country still holding out was Saudi Arabia. But time would tell.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on this May 16, 2005 as reported by the thorough and in-depth BBC World Service program Newshour.