Posted by Info on 13/05/2013
On May 13, 2005, security forces in the city of Andijan, Uzbekistan, opened fire on protesters, the majority unarmed, killing hundreds of men, women and children as they tried to flee. Till today no one has been held accountable, and the authoritarian president, Islam Karimov, has defied calls for an independent investigation. Instead the Uzbek authorities imprisoned dozens of human rights defenders and journalists and ejected human rights groups and international media from the country.
The European Union and its members expressed outrage in the immediate aftermath and imposed sanctions. But Uzbekistan has for over a decade blocked access to 11 UN rights monitors, worse standing than even Iran, China or Turkmenistan. ICRC visits resumed in 2009 after being blocked for five years. And the EU foreign ministers cited this as one of the “positive steps” allowing for lifting sanctions. The last of those sanctions were lifted in 2009, though Uzbekistan met none of the human rights conditions the EU had set.
Will the EU be capable of saying enough is enough as Since then Uzbekistan’s reputation as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers has only grown.
Will the EU and its allies ask the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a country rapporteur to draw global attention to the human rights disaster in Uzbekistan and force an international debate about its abuses. (Human Rights Watch).
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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 27/08/2011
A score of websites were blocked on 20 August on the orders of a court in the capital Astana, which said they were helping to promote “terrorism and religious extremism” and contained “calls to acts of terrorism and the manufacture of explosive devices.”
The blocked sites include the Russian-language blog platforms LiveJournal and LiveInternet very popular in all the former Soviet republics.
“We call for the withdrawal of the court’s order, which is using the pretext of defending internal security to completely block major blog platforms, thereby censoring a great deal of content that has nothing to do with what the order is supposed to be targeting. It is legitimate to combat terrorism, but this should not result in the closure of independent news websites.
“Kazakhstan has long been regarded as a regional ‘pioneer’ in sophisticated control of the Internet but until now the control had been relatively limited. The blocking of LiveJournal and Google’s pull-out a few months ago represent a turning point. Is Kazakhstan beginning to slide down the same slippery slope taken by its neighbours, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, classified as Enemies of the Internet?”
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Posted by Info on 18/07/2011
A fire at an armory on a military base in the city of Abadan on July 7 is believed to have set off a series of explosions that sprayed ammunition throughout the city, causing tens of thousands of people to be evacuated as many homes and other structures were burnt down or damaged.
Eyewitnesses say that scores of people were killed and injured by the blasts, but the Turkmen government said only 15 people died.
In his blogs, Yazguliyev was highly critical of the authorities — and the State Security Council — for their slow reaction to the deadly event.
Government officials said for nearly three days that there were no casualties and only minor damage as a result of the explosions.
Yazguliyev also wrote that there were not 15 dead, as the government claimed, but rather that hundreds of people had been killed.
Yazguliyev was treated well and in a polite manner while being questioned, but was warned that if he is summoned by security forces again because of his blogs he will be charged with “disseminating defamatory information through the media” and “causing national, social, and religious provocations.”
Yazguliyev would face prison sentences of two and five years for those charges, respectively, if tried and found guilty.
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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 30/05/2011
Russia already ranks in seventh place on the list of countries with the largest number of the “richest millionaires,” whose assets are worth $30 millions or more, behind the United States, China, Germany, the UK, India and France.
Moreover, Russia’s millionaires beat out their foreign competitors by the wealth that is concentrated in their households: an average rich family here has $2.1 million, putting Russia in fifth place behind Switzerland ($4.2 million), Singapore ($4 million), the United States ($3.7 million) and Hong Kong ($2.9 million). Russia ranks third in the world in its number of billionaires, behind the United States and China. Moscow has become the world capital of billionaires (79 billionaires) ahead of New York City (58 billionaires).
The authors of Deloitte’s survey took different sources of wealth into account, including financial assets such as stocks, bonds and other investments, and non-financial assets including real estate, expensive goods and business ownership. By this methodology, the present and future millionaires in Russia could also be divided into two subgroups – active “earners” and passive “owners.” “Future millionaires could earn their capital in traditionally highly-profitable sectors of the Russian economy, such as oil and gas, metallurgy and extractive industry, electric-power industry, transport, retail trading and telecommunications.
BUT a survey conducted by the Moscow Higher School of Economics (HSE) found that 60 % of the population in Russia has the same real income it had 20 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed, and some even became poorer. HSE’s research found that income inequality between the late 1980s and the late 2000s in Russia has grown eight times faster than in Hungary, and is five times greater than in the Czech Republic. At present, the Gini coefficient, a statistic that determines income and wealth inequality worldwide, is twice more in Russia than in Sweden, and equivalent to those in Iran, Turkmenistan, Laos, Nigeria….more HERE
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Posted by Info on 22/05/2011
Turkmenistan has, after nine years, presented its first report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) on May 17-18.. UN representatives found the report to be lacking in detail, and disappointed by the responses of Turkmen officials to pointed questions.
The only statistic in the report, and in the oral presentation, was that the number of people in the women’s prison in the north is 2, 213.
Committee members came out of the session less than satisfied. “They didn’t give the facts and figures we asked for and there is a lot of information that’s still missing. There were a lot of rebuttals, but not always on the questions we asked.”
Prior to the CAT session numerous watchdog organizations , including Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Commission, the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and Turkmenistan’s Independent Lawyer Association, submitted reports to the committee outlining fundamental human rights abuses in the Central Asian state.
Human Rights Watch urged the committee to call on the Turkmen government to take “immediate” action, including the release of political prisoners and the conduct of transparent investigations into allegations of torture. Turkmen officials should “acknowledge the problem of torture and ill-treatment in Turkmenistan as serious. This acknowledgment should come from the highest levels, meaning President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, and it should be a message publicly condemning torture and making clear that it has no place in Turkmenistan. That would be a critical first step,.
The UN CAT intends to make “a large number of recommendations and we will identify four or five of those recommendations for immediate follow up within the year. The recommendations are expected to be made public in early June. Later that month the European Parliament is due to vote on the ratification of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Ashgabat.
Szente Goldston said it would be “absurd” for the EU to ratify the PCA “right on the heels” of the CAT review. “It would send a terrible message. What the EU should do instead is seize upon the review … and to really use [its] leverage with the Turkmen government to impress upon [Turkmen leaders] the importance of implementing [CAT] recommendations.”
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Posted by Info on 10/05/2011
Turkmenistan is one most repressive governments in the world. The government exercises total control of public life. People profoundly fear talking about mistreatment they or their relatives have endured at the hands of the authorities out of fear of government retaliation, and human rights activists work under extremely dangerous circumstances.
The Turkmen government continues some of the worst human rights practices such as forcibly detaining dissidents in psychiatric facilities, sending into internal exile those who fall out of government favor, and arbitrarily interfering with citizens‘ability to travel abroad.
A significant portion of this submission is devoted to presenting the broader human rights context that we believe is essential for the Committee’s assessment of the state party’s report and of the information about torture and ill-treatment that it will receive from human rights groups. Nevertheless, torture and ill-treatment are widely recognized as a major concern in Turkmenistan, and Human Rights Watch is aware of several cases in which individuals detained in Turkmenistan reported that they had been held incommunicado, subjected to ill-treatment, including torture.
In 2010 and 2011 Turkmenistan adopted a raft of new laws, including amendments to the criminal and administrative codes. However, none of these changes have addressed the government’s fundamental lack of public accountability.
Turkmenistan’s prisons remain closed to the outside for observation. No international agency, governmental or non-governmental, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has access to monitor Turkmen detention facilities.
After two decades of intolerance to dissent and widespread abuse of the criminal justice system for governmental purges, hundreds and possibly thousands of people have either served or continue to serve lengthy prison terms as a result of closed, unfair trials.
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Posted by Info on 14/04/2011
Turkmenistan is scheduled to make its first-ever presentation to the CAT in Geneva in mid-May. An initial report submitted by the Turkmen government last year glossed over its questionable record and instead emphasized rights provisions in the country’s constitution.
Human Rights activists forwarded a reportto the CAT in March by Civicus, an umbrella organization representing civil society groups, in conjunction with human rights activists from Turkmenistan, described conditions in Turkmen jails as “dire.” Overcrowding, corruption, rape, poor nutrition, beatings and other forms of torture are commonplace.
Even if the CAT review process confirms the existence of a serious problem in Turkmenistan, some activists say the United States and European Union are unlikely to alter their current diplomatic stances toward Ashgabat. Two powerful factors – Turkmenistan’s abundance of energy, and its strategic position as one of Afghanistan’s neighbors – are pushing Washington and Brussels to expand engagement with Ashgabat. What is perceived as strategic necessity is likely to keep on trumping rights concerns.
Specifically, observers believe CAT’s review will have little bearing on whether the EU finally ratifies its Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan. The EU-Turkmen PCA was signed way back in 1998, but ratification has been held up in large part by lingering concerns about Ashgabat’s rights record. The PCA would provide a framework for expanded EU-Turkmen economic cooperation, especially in the energy sphere. The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved the PCA in January, setting the stage for ratification later this year.
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Posted by Info on 31/03/2011
CIVICUS: Report On Torture and Arbitrary Detention in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to UN Special Mechanisms - HERE
The 40-page report, a compilation of personal narratives and analysis presented as a briefing to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture entitled “Torture and Arbitrary Detention in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan” identifies torture as a common practice in the Turkmen and Uzbek penal systems used to interrogate, punish alleged criminals of all varieties, silence perceived and actual dissent, or for no apparent reason. Long administrative detentions, medical malpractice, and other illegal activities often occur in conjunction with abuse.
The report, presented to the UN last week in Geneva, details 12 cases of specific abuse and examines the impact of the governments’ observed complicity in said abuse. It calls on UN special mechanisms to guide an independent investigation into the deaths, torture and arbitrary detention of Turkmen and Uzbek citizens.
Torture is often used to combat the perceived threat of dissent, said CIVICUS. People linked with the Andijan events of 2005 – when Uzbek government forces opened fire on protestors resulting in an international refugee crisis and hundreds of arrests – including innocent family members, are routinely detained, brought up on bogus charges and subjected to long years of bodily torture and psychological terror.
Posted in Turkmenistan, UN, Uzbekistan | 1 Comment »
Posted by Info on 24/03/2011
In May, Turkmenistan is scheduled to present its report on compliance with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishmen.
Non-governmental human rights groups are harshly discouraged and activists persecuted, jailed or forced to leave the country, so it is difficult to write a shadow reports, however a network of international and exiled activists who have been maintaining the record for years will also present their findings to the UN body.
One 20-page study describes the lack of due process involved in incarcerating numerous people for violation of arbitrary rules established by the authoritarian state. “Despite the reforms proclaimed by the present-day authorities, Turkmenistan remains one of the most closed countries in the world,”
Among the most glaring abuses of the Turkmen prison system is the disappearance of a number of people into it who have not been heard from in years and who may no longer be alive. These include former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, tried with others in an alleged coup plot in 2002, and kept incommunicado since then, and two members of the Turkmenistasn Helsinki Foundation, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev, who were charged with helping French documentary film makers.
The Turkmen NGOs have found evidence of the use of torture to extract confessions and ensure conformity and a widespread practice of taking family members as hostages to induce cooperation from suspects.
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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 09/02/2011
The most expensive Internet in the world is in Turkmenistan.
The cost of using unlimited internet access at $2048 kbps reaches $6821.05 per month.
The cheapest internet access costs $43.12 per month where the user is limited by 2 GB at 64 kbps. For comparison, the average cost of high speed unlimited internet in Russia is about $20 per month.
The vast majority of Turkmen internet users prefer home-based limited internet access . BUT, it is nearly impossible to use internet during the day time: only in the nighttime it is more or less possible to have acceptable speed and send/receive emails and visit authorized websites.
People still prefer to visit internet café. For instance, the average cost of one hour internet access in the internet cafes of Ashgabat reaches 3 manats (little over $1). The significant number of the visitors is foreigners. Prior to granting the computer access his passport data is copied to special journal, indicating the time and duration of visit to internet café. The first internet cafes in Turkmenistan were launched in February of 2007.
The Turkmen website notes that foreigners are allowed to visit more websites than local dwellers. Turkmen citizens still cannot access websites, publishing critical articles about Turkmenistan, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
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Posted by Info on 26/01/2011
Final decisions are provided in the original languages. All other versions should soon be posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in English, French and Spanish , and available through the Treaty body document search to be found at the following url : http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx
Views with finding(s) of violation :
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1354-2005-E.pdf (complaint v. Belarus)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1383-2005-E.pdf (complaint v. Belarus)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1390-2005-E.pdf (complaint v. Belarus)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1449-2006-E.pdf (complaint v. Uzbekistan)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1530-2006-E.pdf (complaint v. Turkmenistan)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1621-2007-E.pdf (complaint v. Latvia)
http://www2.ohchr.org/tbru/ccpr/CCPR-C-100-D-1633-2007-E.pdf (complaint v. Azerbaijan)
Posted in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »