Turning a blind eye: EU continues to ignore Uzbekistan’s abuses
(Brussels, 12 May 2011) Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the killing by security forces of hundreds of mainly peaceful demonstrators in the Uzbekistani city of Andizhan. Amnesty International, which issues its annual report on the state of the world’s human rights on the same day, has criticised the European Union for complacency and inaction over continuing serious human rights abuses in the Central Asian country.
“In January we criticised the European Commission’s President, José Manuel Barroso, for receiving Uzbekistan’s president when the EU has done virtually nothing to hold him to account for his country’s gross human rights abuses”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Tomorrow, six years after the Andizhan killings, the EU continues to turn a blind eye to Tashkent’s violations past and present. Uzbekistani forces continue to torture and arbitrarily imprison anyone who peacefully challenges government behaviour. The EU has failed to hold Uzbekistan to account for Andizhan. Indeed it has dropped all sanctions without any sign of improvement, and it still hasn’t opened a diplomatic mission in Tashkent to find out for itself what’s going on there.”
Amnesty International has further questioned the EU’s appetite for holding Uzbekistan to account for its commitments. Despite assurances given in January by Uzbekistan’s President Karimov to President Barroso, the government has initiated legal proceedings to liquidate the registration of Human Rights Watch’s Tashkent office, forcing the office to close. For years the government has severely obstructed the work of Human Rights Watch and all other human rights organisations operating in the country.
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