Uzbekistan: EU to play nice with Karimov's regime

The Andijon events of May 2005, when several hundred of demonstrating civilians were reportedly shot dead by the Uzbek government troops, made the whole world tremble. The results did take long to come. The United States made several statements on severe human rights violations in Uzbekistan, for which later were asked to call back the Karshi-Khanabad airbase, and EU has put several sanctions, including visa bans on high ranking Uzbek officials. However, today, after three years have passed, both US and EU seem to have forgotten Andijon.

As informed by Reuters, “a statement drafted by EU ambassadors on April 22… said the EU remained seriously concerned about the rights situation in Uzbekistan. However, it welcomed progress, including abolition of the death penalty and release of some human rights activists.” Therefore, “the EU Council decided that visa restrictions for individuals would not apply for another period of six months.”

Writing in The Guardian, Abdujalil Boymatov, an Uzbek human rights activists, who was recently granted a refugee status in Ireland, argues that “Uzbekistan now is even more repressive place than it was in the Soviet era…” and urges EU no to soften the sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan after the Andijon events.

The article immediately attracted attentions of many readers who left very interesting comments. Logos00 agrees with Mr. Boymatov saying that:

…Uzbekistan is a glaring testament to the hypocrisy of the war on terror. We will only believe that our [Western] leaders are committed to international humanitarian politics when we hear them speak out and act against all regimes that violate humanitarian ideals not just the ones that suit their own strategic interests.

Nick at neweurasia comments on Mr. Boymatov’s statement arguing that his “rap sheet on the Tashkent regime makes stark reading: harassment and torture of activists and opposition politicians, the internment of journalists in psychiatric hospitals, the Andijan massacre, and all sorts of other unpleasantness… [which is] well known to Uzbeks and others who follow Uzbekistan from afar. Nick asks:

Sanctions have a mixed record in international relations. Considering the current economic situation in Uzbekistan – not least hardships caused by poor infrastructure during the recent winter – will sanctions lead to the downfall of the regime or just pile on the misery for the population?

In another post Nick discussed that UK is backing the decision of EU to suspend visa bans on senior officials of Uzbek government, citing a ministerial statement (via written on 25 April by Jim Murphy, MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that says:

“The Council is expected to consider whether there has been sufficient progress on human rights issues in Uzbekistan in the last six months to warrant continued suspension of the EU visa ban. The Government recognise the positive progress made by Uzbekistan in the last six months and welcome its commitment to hold a second round of the EU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue in May or June this year. In the light of this, and in order to encourage further positive progress from Uzbekistan, the Government are likely to join consensus in continuing the suspension”.

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