Violence and Repression Worsening in Year Since Massacre in Uzbekistan
NEW YORK – One year ago, on May 13, 2005, Uzbek security forces murdered hundreds of unarmed, civilian protestors gathered in a town square in Andizhan, Uzbekistan. The government of Uzbekistan has hidden and distorted information about the massacre. It has severely persecuted lawyers, human rights advocates, and independent journalists – and their families – who have tried to investigate and report on the Andizhan events.
“The massacre in Andizhan should have served as a wake up call to the international community,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First. “Instead, many governments continue to cooperate with and provide assistance to the government of Uzbekistan. They have done so as the human rights situation in Uzbekistan has gone from bad to worse.”
Human Rights First calls on the international community to send a unified message to the government of Uzbekistan: The murder of hundreds of unarmed civilians and continuing widespread repression will not be tolerated. All agreements made with the Government of Uzbekistan must be contingent on verifiable improvement of its human rights practices.
Specifically, Human Rights First urges the United States Government to support targeted sanctions against the Government of Uzbekistan. US leaders must continue to make clear that the US will not sacrifice human rights and democracy concerns in the interest of promoting greater security cooperation. Leaders of the international community, including the United States, must take added measures to apply effective pressure on the Government of Uzbekistan to abide by its human rights obligations.
In its November 2005 report Karimov’s War: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Uzbekistan, Human Rights First placed the Andizhan massacre in context, describing how over the last decade President Karimov has misused concerns over security to undermine respect for basic rights. 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.