02/21/2020, 11.01
UZBEKISTAN
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Another woman sets herself on fire to save her home

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The problem of demolitions and house confiscations is very acute in the country, where many people do not live in normal housing conditions, and has already led to numerous protests, to the point of deliberate fires and self-immolation.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A woman from the city of Karshi in Uzbekistan, Mukaddas Mustafaeva (pictured), doused herself with petrol and set herself on fire, risking her life in front of the building of the Regional Prosecutor's Office, following the decision to demolish her home and failure to respond to her protests. Local radio Ozodlik reported that Mukaddas' father, Olima Mustafaev, managed to save his daughter from the flames, suffering severe burns.

On February 19, the day before the woman's gesture,  the father had accompanied his daughter to the prosecutor's office to deliver yet another complaint against the demolition, but the guards did not even let them in, stating that "the prosecutor is not in, nobody is".

For a year now, Mukaddas had opposed the destruction of the house, and local authorities had decided to obtain an eviction order from the judiciary. The house was built last year thanks to the loan offered by her older sister for about fifteen hundred dollars (15 million som, the local currency), on an abandoned lot next to that of her sister, but owned by another person, who therefore turned to the judiciary.

The landlord, who was not in the documents and nobody knew, showed up a few months after the construction of the house. On that ground Mukaddas's sister kept a number of animals, and she herself lived in a shack near the bus station, together with her disabled husband and first child. Now Mukaddas is expecting her second child, and has tried to prove that the land upon which her home is built is actually owned by the state.

The problem of demolitions and house confiscations is very acute in the country, where many people do not live in normal housing conditions, and has already led to numerous protests, , to the point of deliberate fires and self-immolation, as in the case of Mukaddas.

On February 14, a group of inhabitants of the province of Surkhandarinsk attacked officials with shovels and hoes who had come to deliver a notice of demolition of some houses. In Saryasijsk, a village in the same province, a woman entered the town hall with an ax and a photo of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, threatening those who attempt to destroy her home.

On January 21 in Samarkand, a single mother, who had been evicted from her home, tried to set fire to the inspectors of the Tax Action Office. On the same day in the Andizhansk province a thirty year old, Khushnud Gojibnazarov, doused himself with petrol and set fire to the inspectors of the same local office who wanted to evict him with the whole family, dying a few days later in hospital.

Many other similar episodes occurred last year. In one of the government meetings, President Mirziyoyev expressed his concern about the increase in the number of suicides in Uzbekistan, related to economic reasons and more often than not to the housing problem. In mid-February he signed a decree to develop the mental health service for the population, even establishing the position of national psychiatrist and national suicideologist.

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