1
   

Terror or insurgency in Uzbekistan, US Ally?

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2006 02:39 pm
Quote:
Uzbek singer on trial for song about massacre

The Independent
01 August 2006

A dissident musician who recorded a pop song about the government of Uzbekistan's failure to recognise the severity of the Andijan massacre has gone on trial for slander in the central Asian republic.

Dadakhon Khasanov, who composed "Andijan" in the aftermath of the uprising which was brutally put down by Uzbek authorities, is accused of insulting President Islam Karimov, and of infringing upon the national constitution.

The trial opened at the city court in Tashkent yesterday morning, but was adjourned within minutes when defence lawyer Surat Ikramov demanded that the song's lyrics be examined by linguists.

"They want to keep my tongue tied, so I don't write songs against this dictatorship," Mr Khasanov said.

The 66-year-old singer, who has been under house arrest since April, composed the track days after government troops opened fire on crowds of demonstrators on 13 May, 2005.

It is unclear how widely the song was distributed; certainly widely enough for an off-duty police officer to initiate the proceedings after hearing it on a bus. One radio station, US-funded Radio Liberty, played the track every time it reported on the incident in Andijan.

While the Uzbek government insists that fewer than 200 died in Andijan, Human Rights Watch says "bullets were falling like rain" and that hundreds of demonstrators were gunned down.

The lyrics of "Andijan" read: "Don't say you haven't seen how Andijan was drowned in blood ... The victims fell like mulberries, the children's bloodied bodies were like tulips."

Mr Khasanov, who began his artistic career in the 1960s, was often at odds with Soviet authorities and was briefly arrested in 1976. In the early 1990s, he became one of the founders of opposition Birlik party, which has been banned by Mr Karimov's government.

Mr Karimov has ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since 1989, wiping out dissent and eliminating opposition. He continues to reject calls for an international inquiry into the Andijan uprising.

A dissident musician who recorded a pop song about the government of Uzbekistan's failure to recognise the severity of the Andijan massacre has gone on trial for slander in the central Asian republic.

Dadakhon Khasanov, who composed "Andijan" in the aftermath of the uprising which was brutally put down by Uzbek authorities, is accused of insulting President Islam Karimov, and of infringing upon the national constitution.

The trial opened at the city court in Tashkent yesterday morning, but was adjourned within minutes when defence lawyer Surat Ikramov demanded that the song's lyrics be examined by linguists.

"They want to keep my tongue tied, so I don't write songs against this dictatorship," Mr Khasanov said.

The 66-year-old singer, who has been under house arrest since April, composed the track days after government troops opened fire on crowds of demonstrators on 13 May, 2005.

It is unclear how widely the song was distributed; certainly widely enough for an off-duty police officer to initiate the proceedings after hearing it on a bus. One radio station, US-funded Radio Liberty, played the track every time it reported on the incident in Andijan.
While the Uzbek government insists that fewer than 200 died in Andijan, Human Rights Watch says "bullets were falling like rain" and that hundreds of demonstrators were gunned down.

The lyrics of "Andijan" read: "Don't say you haven't seen how Andijan was drowned in blood ... The victims fell like mulberries, the children's bloodied bodies were like tulips."

Mr Khasanov, who began his artistic career in the 1960s, was often at odds with Soviet authorities and was briefly arrested in 1976. In the early 1990s, he became one of the founders of opposition Birlik party, which has been banned by Mr Karimov's government.

Mr Karimov has ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since 1989, wiping out dissent and eliminating opposition. He continues to reject calls for an international inquiry into the Andijan uprising.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Sep, 2006 04:36 pm
WTF? Which idiot came up with the idea to give Karimov a UN award? For "strengthening friendship and cooperation between the nations, development of cultural and religious dialogue, and supporting cultural diversity", no less? Thats a sick joke..

Quote:
Uzbekistan: Rights Groups Blast Award For 'Dictator'

International rights organizations are criticizing UNESCO's decision to award Uzbek President Islam Karimov the "Borobudur" gold medal. UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura personally gave Karimov the award in Tashkent on September 8 for the Uzbek president's contribution to "strengthening friendship and cooperation between the nations, development of cultural and religious dialogue, and supporting cultural diversity." Rights organizations have long branded Karimov a gross violator of human rights. They say that any international award to the Uzbek leader is inappropriate and that the UNESCO decision was not only wrong but runs contrary to stated UN policies.

PRAGUE, September 13, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Freedom House and Human Rights Watch are leading the campaign against the UNESCO decision.

Veronika Szente-Goldston, Human Rights Watch's advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia, expressed her organization's shock at news of the award in comments to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

'A Bad Joke'

"We think that this is absolutely scandalous," she said. "When we first saw the announcement we thought that it must be a bad joke."

Freedom House joined Human Rights Watch in criticizing UNESCO and the UN agency's awarding of Karimov.

Alexander Gupman, the senior program manager at Freedom House, said his group was similarly amazed at the UNESCO decision.

"Freedom House strongly condemns this decision to reward the dictator Karimov in Uzbekistan who has been part of a massacre of civilians; his regime has been accused of torture as well as other human rights abuses," he said.

UNESCO introduced this medal in 1983, naming it after the famous Buddhist temple in central Java, Indonesia, that dates from the 8th-9th centuries and was restored with UNESCO help in the 1970s. The Borobudur medals -- gold, silver, and bronze -- are given mainly for contributions in preserving cultural heritage sites.

Monument Preservation

Since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has spent a great deal of attention to restoring cultural sites in the country that were neglected during the time Uzbekistan was a Soviet republic. Most noticeable is the Gur-i-Amir site in Samarkand, the grave of Tamerlane the conqueror. Once hidden behind Soviet-built apartments, it is now at the start of an open-air museum walk that takes one to the Registan -- the complex of madrasahs -- also restored since independence.

UNESCO media relations representative and regional representative Vladimir Sergeev noted this when announcing that President Karimov would receive the award.

"It needs to be said that at the conclusion of his visit to Uzbekistan, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura awarded the president of the country the Borobudur gold medal," he said. "This gesture testifies to UNESCO's recognition of the large contribution of Uzbekistan for the preservation of the cultural monuments on the territory of the country."

Though the Samarkand and other ancient monuments in Uzbekistan have indeed been beautifully restored, some argue that it often required relocating thousands of people to other often worse housing. Others point out that the restorations came less from a desire to revive the region's past glory than as part of a nationalist campaign. Some scholars claim that Tamerlane -- now propagandized as the father of the Uzbek nation -- was not even an ethnic Uzbek (though he was born in Shahrisabz, currently part of Uzbekistan).

Criticism Of UNESCO

For Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and others the preservation of cultural monuments is not enough to justify giving President Karimov any award.

Szente-Goldston of Human Rights Watch said UNESCO should align its policies more with the international community while maintaining the ideals of the United Nations.

"The international community could not have more cause to have a united front when it comes to its policy toward Uzbekistan," she said. "That a UN agency would be rewarding a dictator with a prize of this kind, it just shows also the deep lack of coordination between UN agencies and the disrespect shown by UNESCO toward the need to coordinate between UN agencies and the need -- as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made clear -- for all to make human rights a central pillar of their work."

And Szente-Goldston said the timing of the award is not especially favorable.

"The UN Human Rights Council is going to convene for its first substantive session next week and we expect that body to take up the question of Uzbekistan and condemn the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and to take some action," she added.

A statement from Human Rights Watch Executive Director Holly Cartner, released on September 12, noted that the "damaging impact of UNESCO's deeply misguided decision is going to be hard to undo. President Karimov has already had ample opportunity to use it for both domestic and international propaganda purposes, flagging it as an endorsement of his repressive policies."

Human Rights Watch protest letter here:

HRW Letter to Protest UNESCO Award to Uzbek President Islam Karimov
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Feb, 2007 04:55 pm
Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov Guide to Democracy: if your opponent is getting too uppity, kidnap his wife.


This article actually has two stories, somewhat awkwardly blended together. So lets separate them.

First: the opposition politician who wanted to hold a press conference - so Karimov's police took his wife and refused to let her go until he cancelled his press conference:

Quote:
Wife Detained - Public Criticism Prevented

[..] Uzbek rights activist Jahongir Shosalimov [..] cancelled his planned press conference today following the brief detention of his wife on January 31.

Shosalimov this week published an article complaining that Uzbekistan's Constitutional Court had violated his rights by naming the date for presidential elections without allowing the public to participate in the process.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov's term in office officially expired on January 22, exactly seven years after his inauguration for a second and final -- according to the constitution -- term in office. But the Constitutional Court referred to amendments from a 2002 referendum that said presidential elections would be held in December of the year the president's term expired.

Shosalimov said the court's decision without any attempt to include the public violates Article 32 of the constitution which guarantees citizens the right to participate in the political process.

Shosalimov's complaints about the constitutional court were made public on January 30. He planned to discuss his criticism of the court at a press conference today, but on January 31 Uzbek authorities moved in to stop the event.

Veteran rights activist Yelena Urlaeva, who has been harassed numerous times by Uzbek authorities -- including being jailed and committed to a psychiatric hospital -- reported on the situation on January 31.

"Today (January 31), literally one hour ago, [other activists] called us at the office and said that the police burst into the home of the wife of Jahongir Shosalimov and forcibly took her from the home," she said.

Shosalimov searched all over Tashkent for his wife but could not find her. "Today at 11 a.m. the head of the antiterrorist unit of the Uch-Teppe district, headed by Zamon Ruziev, took my wife away to the closest police station and then they took her by car to different places," he said. "I don't know where she is. I have been to several police stations [looking for her]."

Uznews.uz later cited Urlaeva as saying Shosalimov finally found his wife at a police station, at which time the police told Shosalimov to cancel the planned press conference in exchange for his wife's freedom. Urlaeva also told RFE/RL that Shosalimov's family is being harassed.

"After the article was published pressure was put on the family of Jahongir Shosalimov, there were threats [made against him and his family]," she said.


Second: the independent journalist who went to neighbouring Kirgyzistan to interview refugees from Uzbekistan, and who was arrested on her way back, released, and then scooped off the streets again by police, who detained her without her family or lawyer knowing what happened to her.

Quote:
Whereabouts Unknown

[..] Independent journalist Umida Niyazova is in detention after traveling to neighboring Kyrgyzstan to interview witnesses to the bloody government crackdown in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon in May 2005. She may face charges of involvement in a banned religious group.

Niyazova was originally detained in late December as she returned to Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan where the 32-year-old independent journalist was interviewing witnesses to the violence in the Uzbek city of Andijon in May 2005.

The Uzbek government claims 189 people were killed when security forces and soldiers fired on crowds to suppress what the Uzbek government says was an attempt to overthrow the government. Other sources put the death toll much higher, saying several hundred people -- the majority being peaceful protesters -- were killed.

Niyazova had a computer that contained interviews with witnesses, including relatives of alleged members of Akromiya, the banned Islamic group that the Uzbek government says was behind the alleged coup attempt.

Niyazova was released from custody but authorities kept her computer and discs. In late January, Umida suddenly disappeared. Andrea Berg of the U.S.-based organization Human Rights Watch spoke with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service several days after Niyazova was last seen leaving her home.

"We are very concerned about the situation of Umida Niyazova," Berg said. "It's the fourth day now that we do not know about her whereabouts, the family does not know where she is and her lawyer does not know where she is and we are afraid that she is [being] held at MVD (the Interior Ministry) or SNB (the Security Ministry) or that somebody just kidnapped her."

Niyazova was, in fact, in detention again. She spoke with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service from where she was being detained.

"The investigation is under way and apparently they are going to hold me in detention," she said. "Well, we will see what happens next. Oh, it seems I am not suppose to talk for long."

This week, Uzbek authorities started preparing charges against Niyazova. Her lawyer, Abror Yusupov, spoke about the charges.

"Now [the Uzbek authorities] are starting to connect her (Niyazova) and charging her with being part of Akromiya," he said. "They are charging her under a contraband law, Article 246, section 1 [of the criminal code]. On the computer that was confiscated from her there was information about Akromiya and interviews with family members of Akromiya supporters."

Conclusion:

"Being a rights defender has never been easy in Uzbekistan, but since this is a presidential election year and -- constitutionally -- President Karimov should leave office at some point, the examples of Niyazova and Shosalimov are likely to be repeated many times."
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2007 02:08 pm
US Government-funded Voice of America, one of the very few if not the only source of uncensored news in Uzbekistan, is deserting the country.

I find this incredible. Earlier, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had closed down broadcasts in the languages of various East- and Central-European countries that by then had joined the EU, or were on the cusp of doing so. The disappearance of Radio Free Europe was a loss for some of these countries, as most all media in some of them are fiercely partisan, and the political / intellectual elite often relies on RFE or, for example, BBC, for more neutral news. But it was still understandable. Sure, the decision cut off long-standing commitments to the region, but I can imagine budget decisions being informed by a sense that, well, these countries are democracies now, they're not supposed to need us anymore.

But Uzbekistan?? One of the most ruthless dictatorships in Eurasia, where there is not a single independent station locally? And where the future is likely to bring either increasing totalitarianism still, or a collapse into some degree of anarchism with an adjoining role for fundamentalists? To pull out of there?

The article below notes that the decision is triggered by a limited "budget climate" necessitating "that we [..] respond to the nation's most immediate and vital national security challenges." Which apparently includes the Middle East, North Korea, Somalia and Cuba, but not Uzbekistan. This seems very short-sighted.

The other reason the Board is giving for the cutbacks is that it wants to to "shift resources to new technology". "The world has changed, and [..] fewer and fewer people use shortwave radio [..] satellite TV, FM radio and the Internet are the way of the future."

But advocates point out that "shortwave radio should hardly be dismissed as an anachronism. Battery-operated radios are cheap and easy to procure worldwide. Not so with satellite TVs or even Internet service, both of which can be blocked more easily and efficiently than shortwave frequencies".

The Uzbek case bears that out: "The Uzbek government has crippled reception of the multimedia service, which costs VOA $600,000 a year".

I hope there will be an action of some sort to protest this decision.

Quote:
VOA Says Goodbye to Uzbek, Other Tongues

Agency to Shift Resources to Audiences in Mideast, North Korea, Somalia, Cuba

Washington Post
Friday, February 23, 2007

Back home on a farm in Uzbekistan, Navbahor Imamova's mother and siblings crowd around their cranky, Soviet-made radio and tune in daily to Voice of America broadcasts in Uzbek. Though frequently scrambled by Chinese martial music, the VOA journalist said, the broadcast is her family's chief source of credible, uncensored foreign news in the authoritarian Central Asian country.

But that source is due to be silenced. For the second year running, the board overseeing the government-funded VOA has plans to wipe out news in several languages, including its flagship English-language "News Now" programming.


"This is big," said Imamova, one of seven people who put together the Uzbek service from Washington. "It's not a secret that Uzbekistan is one of the most politically oppressed countries. There's not a single outlet that can call itself independent there."

The Broadcast Board of Governors, which oversees VOA and six other government-funded international broadcasters, said this month that the cutbacks are being made in an effort to shift resources to new technology and "critical audiences" in the Middle East, North Korea, Somalia and Cuba.

"The current budget climate requires that we utilize our funds to effectively adapt to changing viewing habits and new technology, and respond to the nation's most immediate and vital national security challenges," the board said in a statement.

The board's $668.2 million budget request calls for a 3.8 percent increase from its anticipated fiscal 2007 level. The increase would fund the expansion of programming to North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as to the Arab-language satellite network Alhurra TV and its pop music and news counterpart, Radio Sawa.

Board spokesman Larry Hart said the decision to scrap the services largely reflects their diminishing audiences. "The world has changed, and our independent surveys show year after year that fewer and fewer people use shortwave radio," Hart said. "Now, that differs dramatically in different parts of the world. But satellite TV, FM radio and the Internet are the way of the future."

VOA employees and advocates counter that their programming is a model of open media and a crucial source of trustworthy news and information for decision makers and influential figures worldwide, a demographic that is difficult to quantify.

Since VOA's inaugural radio broadcast into Nazi Germany 65 years ago, the network has expanded into television and across the globe, and in its heyday, it carried programming in more than 50 languages. In the past few years, services were cut in 10 former Soviet bloc countries that have since joined the European Union. Other services have come and gone only to appear again.

VOA advocates and employees said that among the more dire changes being planned is elimination of "News Now," which feeds the broadcaster's 45 language services and includes reports from Washington and around the world. VOA would continue to offer Web-based English-language content, as well as English to sub-Saharan Africa and news for listeners with a limited English vocabulary.

"This is the VOA. Everything else is patterned on it. This has been our identity since 1942," said Neil Currie, a senior anchor with "News Now" and 23-year veteran of the agency. The English-language program has already suffered the effects of drastic cuts, he said, with staff whittled down in the past two years from more than 50 people to 14. Broadcasts have been reduced dramatically. On Sundays, Currie said, he is alone in the VOA newsroom putting together hours' worth of news.

"It is very hard to think of a parallel to killing the English-language services of VOA America. I can't think of an analogy absurd enough," said Sanford J. Ungar, president of Goucher College in Maryland and VOA's director from 1999 to 2001. "Would Radio Moscow stop broadcasting in Russian? Would Radio Beijing stop broadcasting in Chinese? Radio France in French? The BBC in English?"

Alan L. Heil Jr., a former deputy director of VOA and author of "Voice of America: A History," said, "We need Voice of America more than ever, and yet here we are silencing ourselves on radio." For Heil, the plan is particularly shortsighted when English is spoken by more than a quarter of the world's population and when Russia, China, Iran and al-Jazeera are expanding their TV and Internet programming in English.

Based on figures from the research group InterMedia Survey Institute, Heil calculated that total audience losses worldwide under the budget plan could run to 18.5 million listeners, with 10.5 million lost for the English broadcasts alone.

But Hart, the broadcast board's spokesman, said the priority is to use the limited funds available to target information-deprived indigenous speakers in their own languages, rather than English-speakers traveling abroad. "People who are information-deprived or who don't have access to satellite TV or who don't have hookups to the BBC or CNN -- they don't speak English, and those are the people we need to reach," he said.

Ungar, who was director of VOA when it started offering 24-hour news on the Internet, does not dispute the value of new technology. "But VOA radio is a great bargain," he said. "It costs so little to do it, and is vastly less expensive than TV."

Advocates say shortwave radio should hardly be dismissed as an anachronism. Battery-operated radios are cheap and easy to procure worldwide. Not so with satellite TVs or even Internet service, both of which can be blocked more easily and efficiently than shortwave frequencies. And unlike FM, which transmits up to 75 miles, shortwave can be broadcast over vast distances.

VOA advocates contend that the broadcast board has opted to bulldoze the agency rather than explore alternatives, including asking for greater appropriations to cover the cost of the doomed services, which come to $22 million, or about 3.5 percent of the budget.

For Imamova, the broadcaster in the Uzbek service, the plan is devastating. "VOA Uzbek is the only source of U.S. and international news in the region. It is a critical service," especially in light of a crackdown on news media in Uzbekistan, she said, adding that her comments reflect her personal views.

[Meanwhile,] the Uzbek government has crippled reception of the multimedia service, which costs VOA $600,000 a year and also reaches Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and parts of China.
But researcher InterMedia also notes the likelihood of a significant audience undercount because of respondent wariness in the country.

But virtually all the countries listed for eliminations are critical, Heil said. Russian President Vladimir Putin "could pull the plug on TV any day, the Balkans are something of a tinderbox with the Kosovo crisis coming to a head, and Tibetan services are absolutely critical in a country with no other independent information."

"You have to keep up with new technology, but at the same time you need a measured approach to keep your audience base," Heil added. "The stronger you are as a news gatherer, the closer you come to fulfilling VOA's mission: 'The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth.' "

    [color=darkred][u]VOA Cutbacks[/u] Services to be shut down or significantly reduced* cover a swathe of languages in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, China and Southeast Asia. TO BE SHUT DOWN • VOA service in Croatian, Uzbek, Georgian, Greek, Cantonese and Thai. • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's service in Macedonian. TO BE REDUCED • VOA and RFE/RL service in Ukrainian. • VOA and RFE service in Tibetan • RFE/RL in Romanian, South Slavic and Kazakh. • VOA service in Portuguese to Africa. • Countries losing radio but retaining television include Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia.[/color]
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2007 04:52 pm
Some good news - for now:

Quote:
EU to uphold Uzbekistan and Belarus sanctions

EU Observer
28.02.2007

The EU is set to uphold existing sanctions against Uzbekistan and Belarus when foreign ministers meet [on 5 March].

[This] means Uzbekistan will remain under an arms export embargo and that seven Uzbek officials will stay on an EU visa ban list until the next review period in May. The sanctions are set to expire in November, unless renewed.

The measures were imposed after Uzbek troops slaughtered at least 180 civilians in the eastern town of Andijan in May 2005.

Tashkent last December held one meeting with EU experts on Andijan, but failed to deliver a follow-up meeting and has arrested more NGO activists since then. [..]

The statement fails to tie future relaxation of sanctions to "concrete steps" such as releasing political prisoners or giving Red Cross access to jails however, ignoring a request from Human Rights Watch. The NGO fears that another wishy-washy meeting on Andijan could see the EU justify lifting sanctions in May.

Brussels' sanctions renewal comes at a sensitive time [..], with EU diplomats [..] fearing they could get frozen out by president Karimov's prickly regime. The German EU presidency sees Uzbekistan as a cornerstone of its new policy to build an EU presence in Central Asia.

A January EU internal paper says Tashkent has recently swung toward Russia due to "extreme irritation" at the EU visa ban list, adding "Uzbekistan represents half the population of Central Asia and cannot be put aside without compromising an EU strategy towards the region."

Belarus list to stay

See original article


More information about the actual situation inside Uzbekistan is in this article, published last week in view of the EU's upcoming decision:

Quote:
Uzbekistan: Rights Activists Call For Continued EU Sanctions

February 28, 2007
RFE/RL

February 28, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Human rights groups are sounding the alarm ahead of a meeting on March 5 at which EU foreign ministers will review sanctions against Uzbekistan, which were imposed after government troops brutally suppressed a demonstration in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon in 2005.

The International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights (IHF) wants EU sanctions against Uzbekistan to continue -- and possibly be extended -- because of the deteriorating human rights situation there. Based on a firsthand fact-finding mission to Uzbekistan, the group released a report in Brussels on February 27 saying there is no reason for the EU to ease sanctions. [..]

'Selling Out' Human Rights

"There's absolutely no basis for lifting these sanctions," IHF Executive Director Aaron Rhodes says. "There has been no improvement in the human rights situation -- there has been a severe downgrading of the human rights situation. And the effect of this is that there really [isn't] anybody monitoring human rights there. And so, when states operate without any kind of transparency -- without any kind of monitoring -- they can do what they want. We don't know what's going on in Uzbekistan."

Rhodes said Uzbekistan's human rights community has been "wiped out" since the violence in Andijon and the "lights have been turned off" by authorities there. He said United Nations rapporteurs are denied entry into the country at a time when the remaining OSCE presence is "ineffective."

Rhodes urged EU ministers not to "sell out" on human rights in order to create an "appearance of political progress." He ascribes that temptation to EU members seeking closer relations with energy-rich Central Asia.

In November, EU countries appeared split over a preferred course. [..]

Crackdown On Muslims

Rhodes declined to say how the IHF collected the information in its report. But he stressed that anecdotal evidence from isolated missions cannot replace systematic monitoring.

The IHF's report includes a detailed list of continuing repressive measures -- restrictions and abuse of imprisoned activists, as well as spurious attempts to discredit activists' reputations, harass their relatives, and persecute them for political reasons.

Rhodes also highlighted a massive crackdown by Uzbek authorities on Muslims who practice their religion outside officially sanctioned channels, in "unregistered" mosques. He said it appears that "thousands" have been imprisoned -- and that many have been executed.

Official Role In Abuses

Meanwhile, the IHF says it has direct evidence of collusion by high-ranking Uzbek officials in the political persecution of human rights activists.

IHF Deputy Executive Director Brigitte Dufour told RFE/RL she was informed by a senior Uzbek official in 2001 that one woman activist was forced to undergo psychiatric treatment after complaining about the situation in Uzbekistan during a Warsaw meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"She was demonstrating in front of the town hall, and she was taken directly to this [psychiatric] hospital and all that," Dufour says. "And he said, [..] 'She must be crazy. You recall what she said in Warsaw.' [..]

Dufour and Rhodes say the same Uzbek official who made those remarks now heads the country's delegation in talks with the EU.

Rhodes warned the EU against "appeasing" the Uzbek government. But he also said there appears to be "no lack of interest" on the part of Germany to hear the views of human rights groups on Uzbekistan.

Germany, current holder of the EU Presidency, is now drafting the bloc's first-ever strategy for Central Asia. It is expected to be unveiled at an EU summit in June. [..]
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Mar, 2007 04:57 pm
nimh wrote:
Quote:
The IHF's report includes a detailed list of continuing repressive measures -- restrictions and abuse of imprisoned activists, as well as spurious attempts to discredit activists' reputations, harass their relatives, and persecute them for political reasons.

Both the full report and the IHF press release are available online:

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights: Decimation of Human Rights Community in Uzbekistan
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Mar, 2007 04:05 pm
Under the title "A**HOLE UZBEKS" INDEED (a reference to Borat the movie), the TNR blog highlights the US State Department's latest human rights report about Uzbekistan. The news: things are only getting worse.

(Emphasis and paragraph breaks mine.)

Quote:
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2006

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 6, 2007

[..]

The government's human rights record, already poor, continued to worsen during the year. Citizens did not have the right in practice to change their government through peaceful and democratic means. Security forces routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees under interrogation to obtain confessions or incriminating information. In several cases, authorities subjected human rights activists and other critics of the regime to forced psychiatric treatment. Human rights activists and journalists who criticized the government were subject to harassment, arbitrary arrest, politically motivated prosecution, and physical attack.

The government generally did not take steps to investigate or punish the most egregious cases of abuse, although many officials were prosecuted for corruption. Prison conditions remained very poor and outside monitors did not have full access to places of detention. In many cases those arrested were held incommunicado for extended periods without access to family or attorneys. Criminal defendants were often deprived of legal counsel. Guilty verdicts were almost universal, and generally based upon defendants' confessions and witnesses' testimony obtained through coercion.

The government tightly controlled the mass media and treated criticism of the regime as a crime. The government did not observe citizens' right to free assembly or association; police regularly detained citizens to prevent public demonstrations and authorities sought to control all nongovernmental organization (NGO) activity, forcing many local and international NGOs to close.

The government restricted religious activity, treating virtually all religious observance outside state sanctioned structures as a crime. Courts convicted many independent Muslims of extremist activity, and several Protestant groups were subjected to harassment. In several cases the government pressured other countries to forcibly return Uzbek refugees who were under the protection of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

There was a widespread public perception of corruption throughout society. While the government took steps to combat trafficking in persons, this remained a serious problem. The use of compulsory labor, particularly in cotton harvesting, continued. [..]
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