Uzbeks Still Want Justice on Andijan
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||17 May 2012|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Uzbeks Still Want Justice on Andijan, 17 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbcc43a2.html [accessed 1 May 2016]|
A leading Uzbek human rights campaigner says the country's leadership is continuing to lie to the international community about its responsibility for bloodshed in Andijan seven years ago – and is being allowed to get away with this.
Mutabar Tajibaeva, originally from Uzbekistan, spoke to NBCentralAsia from France, where she moved after being imprisoned for speaking out against the government. She urged western politicians to keep Uzbek officials at arm's length, and described the human rights since Andijan.
On May 13, 2005, Uzbek security forces opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in the eastern city of Andijan, killing hundreds of people.
Tashkent refused to allow an independent investigation into Andijan. The authorities subsequently arrested eyewitnesses, human rights defenders and journalists who covered the violence or spoke out about what happened.
European Union sanctions imposed after the violence were gradually eased, and were lifted altogether in 2009.
On May 11, 2012, New York-based Human Rights Watch said the EU and United States were enhancing their relationship with Tashkent and called on them to re-examine this in light of Uzbekistan's "atrocious rights record".
Mutabar Tajibaeva: This bloody event will undoubtedly go down in history as a terrible tragedy endured by the Uzbek people. They continue to suffer alone because [President] Islam Karimov's regime grows stronger every day.
Much to my regret, a growing number of [foreign] politicians are shaking the bloodstained hands of Uzbek officials, and doing their best to forget how the blood of innocent women and children was spilled in Andijan. Regrettably, they view [Uzbek officials] not as murderers but as partners.
As a result, people continue to die under torture in Uzbekistan's prisons. Persecution and pressure directed at human rights defenders and journalists is growing, and devout [Muslims] are still being arrested in large numbers.
NBCentralAsia: Do you think people still want justice or have they accepted their lot?
Tajibaeva: People do still want justice, but many have fallen into a state of despair, because Uzbekistan continues to trample on human rights and the situation isn't changing despite the years that we activists have spent raising the alarm .
The good relationship that some western politicians maintain with Karimov's regime has made this situation still worse. And the Uzbek government continues to tell shameless lies to the international community when it appears before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. They know they will not be punished for providing false information.
NBCentralAsia: The voices of those who fought for justice on the Andijan issue seem to have fallen silent recently. Why do you think this is?
Tajibaeva: The Uzbek authorities threaten to repress and torture anyone who presses for the truth about Andijan.
Take the Andijan Justice and Development organisation in Europe – its members remain silent for good reason. One of its aims is to keep the memory of May 13, 2005 alive and to support the victims, both in Uzbekistan and in countries where they have sought asylum. Many of its members of this organisation have been tortured in Uzbek prisons. Until recently, the group was active and was planning to file individual complaints of torture relating to Andijan. But they've been forced to curtail their activities after receiving threats.
If the international community tries to turn a blind eye to the Uzbek regime's crimes, we must change and reinforce our methods of fight against this dictatorship. I hope that human rights groups continue exposing the crimes committed by the government in order to hold it to account – even though this is often life-threatening.
Unfortunately, as a witness to events in Andijan, I was arbitrarily detained and subjected to severe torture. However, it is my responsibly to rectify injustice. We are continuing to document the Andijan tragedy and the systematic use of torture in Uzbekistan.
Our organisation has lodged an individual complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture on behalf of Husan Ruziev, an Andijan victim now living in the Netherlands. I too plan to file my own complaint with the committee.
We are seeking to get those Uzbek officials who ordered the torture of innocent people after Andijan are banned from entering European states. This must not unpunished.