Memorial is fiercely critical of the EU decision to remove sanctions against Uzbekistan
The Memorial Human Rights Centre has stated that the stopping of EU sanctions against Uzbekistan is an unwarranted concession to one of the worst dictatorships.
The decision by the European Union to remove sanctions against Uzbekistan, imposed after the Andijan events, demonstrates a regrettable willingness by European politicians for the sake of geopolitical interests to close their eyes to systematic and flagrant violations of human rights in this country.
The Uzbekistan authorities have not only ignored demands for an independent investigation into the Andijan tragedy during which the actions of government forces caused the death of hundreds of peaceful civilians, but also continue mass repression within the country. Thousands of Uzbek Muslims have been subjected to torture and are languishing in prison on trumped-up charges. This year repression significantly increased, leading to a rising number of refugees. Over recent months hundreds of believers have been arrested under the pretext of fighting terrorism, while many religious prisoners have had their sentences unwarrantedly increased.
CIS countries are receiving more and more requests to extradite to Uzbekistan nationals of that country groundlessly suspected of committing crimes. This is despite the European Court of Human Rights having unequivocally deemed extradition to Uzbekistan as unacceptable since ill-treatment of people held in custody in that country is a widespread and constant problem.
The government is continuing to place pressure on the human rights community and journalists. 16 Uzbek human rights defender remain imprisoned.
The issue of access by the opposition to the parliamentary and local elections planned for the end of the year is not even discussed.
In such a situation it would be difficult to view the cancellation of the last, in many ways symbolic, sanctions against Uzbekistan (the ban of supplying military purpose goods) as anything but an entirely unjustified friendly step towards one of the most obnoxious dictatorships.
Such a decision not only arouses moral condemnation, but also leads to a toughening of positions in a region of radical Islamic groups using violent methods in their battle with the government.
27 October 2009