Thursday, June 02, 2005

Uzbekistan--our ALLY on the war on Terror.....continues to terrorize it's citizens

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Uzbekistan: Stop Arresting Defenders for Reporting on Andijan Massacre

On May 13, 2005, violence broke out in Andijan, Uzbekistan. President Islam Karimov and other official sources initially indicated that the army responded with gunfire to a gathering of extremists, and that 169 "bandits" were killed. Independent sources, however, estimate that the civilian death toll could be as high as 750 men, women and children.

In the aftermath of the violence, human rights defenders face beatings and arrests. The crackdown targets those attempting to gather and disseminate information about the events and the identity and number of victims. Because the government controls all media output in Uzbekistan, this independent reporting is vital.

Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, chairman of the human rights group Apelliatsia (Appeal) in Andijan, witnessed the security forces using lethal force on May 13. After commenting on the incident to international press, Mr. Zainabitdinov was arrested and detained incommunicado for three days. He now faces prosecution under criminal libel laws.

In Tashkent, government agents beat and arrested several activists on their way to interview survivors of the Andijan tragedy. At least one human rights defender in Namangan was harassed and arrested by authorities while peacefully protesting the violence in Andijan.
In Uzbekistan, where torture in prisons is widespread, detention for even a short time raises serious concerns for the safety of detainees.

Human rights defenders, who have long faced official repression, are essential in ensuring that the government of Uzbekistan and its agents are held accountable for grave human rights abuses committed against civilians in Andijan and elsewhere. Human Rights First urgently needs your help to help protect human rights defenders in Uzbekistan.

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Click here for more information about human rights defenders in Uzbekistan


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