Posted by Info on 08/05/2013
Reporters Without Borders has published its annual Freedom of the Press Index for 2012:
Uzbekistan occupied 164th place out of 179 countries. From last year’s index Uzbekistan moved down seven notches which shows the deterioration of the situation journalists face in the country. Uzbekistan remained a nightmare for journalists. Dictatorship of President Islam Karimov controlled the Internet, pressured the media and punished independent journalists using courts.
It was a good news to hear, that The UNHCR in Kyrgyzstan granted refugee status to Uzbek journalist Elena Bondar. Pressure on Bondar – threatening phone calls and aggressive treatment by law enforcement officers – forced the young journalist to flee Uzbekistan and seek refugee status.
The worse situation is only in Turkmenistan with the regime of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Turkmenistan came 177th on the index, along with Eritrea and North Korea which came on the bottom of the index.
Kazachstan occupied 16oth, Tajikistan 123rd and Kyrgyzstan 106th place.
Russia came 148th, falling six notches from last year which is explained by repressions and the suppression of protests after Vladimir Putin came to power.
Moldova, Armenia and Georgia fared the best coming 55th, 74th and 100th.
Personality cult in Turkmenistan. President Berdymukhamedov introduced minimal reforms but heaped honours upon himself. For his 50th birthday, he awarded himself the Watan (Motherland) Order, a gold and diamond pendant weighing about 1 kilogram for his “outstanding achievements” in his barely six months in office.
Posted in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 23/10/2011
Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.
THE BALTIC REPUBLICS
Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.
THE EU BORDERLANDS UKRAINE, BELARUS and MOLDOVA
Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.
Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.
A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.
Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.
Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 12/10/2011
The US State Department is continuing to warn US citizens of the dangers of travelling in Uzbekistan., warning of the danger of terrorist attacks against American citizens.
Experts at the US State Department say that supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the Central Asian region.
Members of these groups have attacked US government interests in the past. In 2004, the US Embassy in Tashkent was attacked; terrorists have also been responsible for kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings, the State Department says.
“Extreme caution should also be exercised in areas of the Ferghana Valley bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.”
Several years ago, the US Embassy in Uzbekistan issued a warning to its citizens travelling in the country of the dangers of using private-hire taxis. This warning was prompted by a number of instances of foreigners being robbed in taxis.
Posted in Kyrgyzstan, others, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 16/08/2011
Shokhrukh Saipov, the Osh-based editor and publisher of the news website UzPress, was brutally attacked. He is the younger brother of Alisher Saipov, the prominent journalist killed in southern Kyrgyzstan in October 2007 whose murder remains unsolved.
Unidentified attackers brutally beat Saipov shortly after his 5 p.m.he had attended a media seminar. Three hours later, residents of the village of Aravan, 17 miles (27 kilometers) outside of Osh, found him lying unconscious on a street, with his nose and several teeth broken.The journalist was hospitalized and diagnosed with a severe concussion and partial memory loss.None of his valuables–money, a cell phone, and a laptop–were taken, the brother said.
Shokhrukh Saipov decided to become a journalist after Kyrgyz authorities failed to properly investigate his older brother’s murder and instead imprisoned a man who is largely believed to be innocent.
Saipov’s website–published in Russian, Uzbek, and English–covers social and political issues affecting the daily lives of ethnic Uzbek residents in southern Kyrgyzstan. It also runs commentaries on the ongoing interethnic divide between Uzbek and Kyrgyz residents of the region with recommendations for reconciliation.
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Posted by Info on 12/07/2011
Turkmenistan remains a totalitarian and isolated state. The government continues to suppress dissent and restrict freedom of movement of its citizens. The fate of the group of political prisoners who were accused of organizing an armed plot against former President Niyazov remains unknown.
In Uzbekistan, the government has used the cloak of the war against terrorism to expand its campaign of political repression, which has become part of the daily life in that country. According to various sources, in 2009-2010, at least 868 individuals were sentenced on politically-motivated charges, while hundreds were detained unlawfully. The total number of political prisoners is several thousand individuals, which is greater than the rest of the post-Soviet countries combined. Contrary to statements by government officials, torture remains endemic. Non-governmental organizations, media outlets and religious groups come under routine pressure by the government. Almost 30 civil society and democratic opposition activists, as well as journalists, languish in prison on fabricated charges.
Uzbekistan’s prevailing climate of political repression in combination with an authoritarian form of government, ineffectual economy, pervasive corruption and absence of justice are a destabilizing factor not only in that country, but the region as a whole.
Despite a number of investigations conducted by official bodies, various commissions and groups, much remains unclear about the root causes of the bloody interethnic clashes taking hundreds of lives which took place in 2010 following the overthrow of the despotic regime of President Kurmanbek Bakiev Investigations are being conducted with the help of various torture techniques, unlawful detentions, searches and confiscation of property, and in the overall spirit of anti-Uzbek discrimination.
Courts and defense lawyers have come under strong pressure, while verdicts handed down in cases related to the June 2010 clashes can hardly be characterized as fair. The case of the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has been sentenced to life in prison on fabricated charges.
Local authorities in southern parts of the country are known to use extortion on a massive scale against ethnic Uzbeks. Of particular concern is the central government’s apparent lack of political will to deal effectively with the lawlessness prevailing in Kyrgyzstan’s southern areas.
Kazakhstan continues to restrict political and religious freedoms, allowing the practice of closed trials,failing to prevent torture, and limiting access to independent defense lawyers under the excuse of safeguarding “state secrets.”
The extradition in June 2011 of 28 Muslim refugees back to Uzbekistan is a violation of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, demonstrating the fact that Kazakhstan is no longer safe for refugees from other post-Soviet countries, following the enactment in 2010 of the National Law on Refugees.
Several countries of Eastern and Central Europe create serious obstacles for asylum-seekers from Central Asia.
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Posted by Info on 19/06/2011
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has voted unanimously to ban the independent news website fergananews.com (formerly Ferghana.ru). Moscow-based Ferghana.ru was singled out for offering alternatives to the nationalist narrative that Uzbek separatists are to blame for the tragedy- of last summer’s ethnic violence.
The resolution comes at a time of sharply rising nationalism and hostility toward international researchers who have found that more Uzbeks died in the violence. Several foreigners have been banned from Kyrgyzstan for suggesting ethnic Kyrgyz carried out the majority of pogroms and may have committed crimes against humanity, which the resolution also dismissed.
The resolution also praises the work of Osh’s ultranationalist mayor, Melisbek Myrzakmatov, whom most international observers believe is part of the problem, not the solution; Myrzakmatov, refusing to step down last summer, declared himself independent of Bishkek.
Posted in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 04/05/2011
The report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (KIC) into the events in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 was released by its Chair Dr Kimmo Kiljunen on Tuesday, 3 May in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The findings are based on extensive interviews of some 750 witnesses, 700 documents and nearly 5 000 photographs and 1 000 video extracts.
The KIC established that the violence, mainly in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, resulted in significant loss of life and injury on both sides of the ethnic conflict, with some 470 deaths, and thousands more injured. Of the killed people 74 % were Uzbek and 25 % Kyrgyz. Hundreds of thousands were displaced, not to mention the wide-scale damage to property, most of which was Uzbek-owned. Allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence by both sides were also collected.
The KIC notes that in the wake of the 7 April overthrow of the previous regime, there appeared a power vacuum and consequent political rivalries..
The KIC does not consider the violence as war crimes or genocide. However, certain attacks against the Uzbek mahallas in Osh on 11-13 June, if proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, would amount to crimes against humanity. Furthermore, there were many other criminal acts and serious violations of international human rights law.
Arrests, criminal investigations and trials after June events have been selective targeting so far primarily ethnic Uzbek minority. There is also evidence which indicates that acts of torture have been committed in detention centers by the authorities. more HERE
The KIC was formed based on an initiative by Finland, Australia, Estonia, France, Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Posted in Kyrgyzstan, Russia | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 30/03/2011
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), comprising six states with deeply troubling human rights records – China, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – is increasingly embraced by the international community as a partner in countering terrorism and forging peace and security.
Report Terrorism and Human Rights: The Impact of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization released on March 30, 2011, Human Rights in China (HRIC) argues that the SCO’s counter-terrorism policies and practices undermine the effectiveness and integrity of the international counter-terrorism framework, and enable SCO member states to target their own populations through repressive measures that compromise internationally-recognized human.
· Non-compliance with UN standards. In adapting “Three Evils” doctrine -alleged separatist, extremist, and terrorist acts with its overbroad scope target legitimate expressions of political and religious beliefs.
· Violation of individual human rights protected under international law. Such practices as cooperative surveillance, a shared database and blacklists, guaranteed extraditions and denials of asylum, and ethnic and religious profiling, violate the right to privacy, principles of non-discrimination, non-refoulement, and protection of asylum seekers, and due process protections.
· Negative impact on the international counter-terrorism framework. The SCO has actively attempted to integrate its framework into that of the UN, as well as in other international fora. The UN and others have responded favorably and without critical review of SCO policies and practice.. full report HERE
Posted in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, others, Russia, SCO, Tajikistan, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 30/03/2011
HRW: Kyrgyz authorities’ refusal to investigate torture allegations in a case to be reviewed by the Supreme Court on March 29, 2011, constitutes a serious violation of both Kyrgyz and international law.
Farrukh Gapirov, an ethnic Uzbek charged with involvement in the interethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2010, was acquitted by the Osh Municipal Court, in southern Kyrgyzstan, because the court found that the main evidence against him – his confession – had been extracted under torture. Despite judicial instructions to investigate the use of torture, which were supported by photographic, video, and medical evidence presented at trial, the prosecutorial authorities in Osh refused to open a criminal investigation. Instead they appealed Gapirov’s acquittal to the provincial court, which upheld the acquittal, and then to the Supreme Court, which will review the acquittal on March 29.
“The authorities’ blatant dismissal of the court’s orders in this case, and their refusal to investigate the use of torture despite overwhelming evidence, is incomprehensible. It’s hard to imagine what more evidence could possibly be needed to get the authorities to investigate a torture case.” said Mr Solvang from Human Rights Watch.
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Posted by Info on 29/03/2011
Prisoners’ families’ members have been organizing pickets since March 26th in front of the most of jails and prisons throughout the country in fear of a violent crackdown on the part of the State service of corrections. They claim that prisoners have resorted to the hunger-strike as a matter of protest against “unbearable conditions of detention”.
“Prisoners are treated and fed worse than dogs. Whereas food that we provide for the most part is seized by prison staff. We are tired of bribing policemen so that they take proper care of prisoners” Many incidents that have occurred in March alone, including an attempt of a prison break, a homicide and finally the massive hunger-strike.
“Hunger-strike has resulted from “mass reprisals and empty declarations instead of a true war on crime”. According to this human right defender, “prisons are full of innocent people who were simply framed-up with drugs or ammunition planted by police.”
Meanwhile, the parliament has refused to discuss the issue of the mass hunger strike in the country’s prisons..
Prisoners demand the following:
1. to terminate illegal arrests of people under pretext of the “war on the organized crime”, since membership in an organized crime group has to be established by court, not by police;
2. to address the issue of tortures while under investigation and in detention, as well as extortion of bribes for letting a visit by family members, probation or hospitalization;
3. to improve the conditions for incarceration, to meet the minimal standards;
4. to review cases of life sentenced prisoners;
5. to focus on violations particularly in cases of illegal possession of drugs or ammunition;
6. to select carefully personnel for the police and correction services;
7. to provide proper health care for prisoners.
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Posted by Info on 18/03/2011
The 160-page Russian-language manual, created by the Institute of Human Rights with the assistance of the UN Refugee Agency, is intended for the use of lawyers, not their clients, and offers tips on Russia’s extremely convoluted extradition laws.
Over the past few years there has been a growing number of extraditions of people prosecuted on illegal political or religious charges. Most cases stem from post-Soviet Central Asian states — Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — but Belarus, also notorious for its human rights record, contributes as well.
Extradition in these situations often means torture and long-term jailing for suspects, but Russian authorities prefer to ignore this, even the fact that wanted activists often have dual citizenship and are Russian citizens does not help.
The Russian legal system has little experience in handling complicated extradition cases, which leads to violations, lawyers said. In particular, people are sometimes handed over to other countries before they could appeal the extradition.
Posted in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 16/03/2011
President Roza Otunbayeva: “Two objects may be created, both U.S. and Russian. There is nothing bad in this, we should be pragmatists. We are ready to get instructions on fighting terrorism, we have no experience in these issues.”
“[Some] constantly try to oppose these countries on our territory,” Otunbayeva said. “In Europe and in the United States, I was asked about the relations with Russia,” she said. “There is no doubt that Russia is our strategic partner and ally.”
Otunbayeva was approved as the country’s new leader in a referendum in June after large-scale protests that ousted former Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April last year. The political situation in Kyrgyzstan stabilized after the country elected a new parliament and approved Otunbayeva as president for a transitional period until 2012.
Posted in Kyrgyzstan, others, Russia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Info on 09/03/2011
Azimjan Askarov, prominent ethnic Uzbek rights activist jailed for life over last year’s deadly violence in southern Kyrgyzstan is to be awarded a Czech human rights prize.
The Homo Homini prize, awarded annually by the Prague-based NGO People in Need “to an individual in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts.“
People In Need head Simon Panek said Askarov had shown “unusual personal courage” in fighting for human rights in extremely difficult conditions.
Panek said it is “admirable” how Askarov has continued in the face of threats, detention, imprisonment, and physical abuse and added that he hopes the prize will draw attention to Askarov’s situation.
Askarov is the head of the local human rights group Vozdukh (Air), and his work over many years has focused on prison conditions and police treatment of detainees.
He had reportedly been documenting the killings and arson attacks that mostly targeted ethnic Uzbeks during the violence that struck southern Kyrgyzstan in June.
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Posted by Info on 08/03/2011
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (or the “O-De-Ke-Be” in Russian) consisting of the countries like Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is going to create a common register of terrorist and extremist organizations that pose a threat to security in the region and thus are designated as illegal.
The idea implies that any “terrorist” organization that has been officially designated as such, for instance, in the territory of the Russian Federation, shall fall under the same category in all member-states of the Organization and therefore be subject to persecution in accordance with the existing national legislation. In the meantime, representatives of criminal communities persecuted in one of the member-states are often able to seek an asylum in neighboring countries and stay free away from prosecution or indictment.
The CSTO pays a special attention to the problem of illegal drug-traffic and therefore plans to create a “Center to combat the drug traffic” in Kyrgyzstan. The Drug Control Agency is currently working on the respective proposals.
CSTO is not considering the creation of a new military base in the south of Kyrgyzstan in spite of a preliminary agreement regarding the creation of another Russian military base that was made on August 1, 2009 by the president D. Medvedev and the former Kyrgyz president K. Bakiev.
Posted in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Info on 19/02/2011
59-year-old Azimjan Askarov, a prominent human rights defender from southern Kyrgyzstan, talks on camera.
“When I refused to sign the paper accusing some people of distributing weapons the investigator hit me on the head with a pistol. Blood went everywhere and he told me to clean it up.”
The interview with Askarov was recorded in one of Bishkek’s prisons with the permission of the authorities by a local journalist last December and posted online.
During the 15-minute video, Askarov describes the beatings, humiliation and torture he was subjected to during three months of pre-trial detention.
Last autumn Askarov was accused of being one of the organisers of deadly inter-ethnic riots in southern Kyrgyzstan last June. He and four others were jailed for life. Their appeal went to Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court. However, earlier this month, a decision by the court was postponed indefinitely.
Askarov, whose years of human rights activism focused on alleged police misconduct and abuse, denied all the charges.
He is one of dozens of ethnic Uzbeks convicted for their alleged involvement in crimes committed during the June violence.
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