Human Rights First Reports the World is Letting Uzbekistan Get Away with Murder
NEW YORK – November 13, 2005 will mark six months since the massacre of hundreds of protestors in Andizhan, Uzbekistan. Though the death toll and other facts remain unclear, the government of Uzbekistan continues to reject calls for an independent, international investigation, claiming that the violence was part of a counterterrorism operation.
In its new report Karimov’s War: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Uzbekistan, Human Rights First places this violence in context, describing how over the last decade President Karimov has misused concerns over security to undermine respect for basic rights and freedoms. While the Andizhan massacre was the most massive single act of violence committed by the Uzbek government against civilians to date, it was not an isolated incident. Rather, what happened at Andizhan was part of a much broader pattern of oppression in the name of counterterrorism that has characterized President Karimov’s long rule. Those who have tried to report on this oppression – including journalists, lawyers, monitors, and activists – have themselves been jailed, tortured, and accused of supporting terrorists.
“The Karimov government’s suppression of human rights defenders is one of the most extreme case studies of the misuse of legitimate concerns over security to undermine respect for basic rights and freedoms and to persecute those who promote human rights,” said Neil Hicks, Director of International Programs at Human Rights First.
In its report, Human Rights First calls on the international community to send a more unified message to Uzbekistan seeking an international, independent investigation into the violence in Andizhan and making all agreements with Uzbekistan contingent on verifiable improvement of its human rights practices. If further deterioration in human rights conditions in Uzbekistan is to be avoided, it is critical that the international community, including the United States, take concerted action to bring more effective pressure on Uzbekistan to abide by its human rights obligations.
Specifically, Human Rights First asks the United States to support targeted sanctions against the government of Uzbekistan and make clear that it will not sacrifice concerns about human rights and democracy in the interest of security cooperation. “The United States must stop sending mixed messages,” said Hicks, “if the government of Uzbekistan is to be held accountable for the murder of hundreds of civilians.”