Uzbekistan. In April, the Uzbek regime stopped the UN
Commissioner for Human Rights from visiting the country. But
international criticism of the regime's repression of human
rights became fierce during the year. According to
CountryAAH, Human Rights Watch and
the UN Committee Against Torture presented reports of
harrowing testimony from arrested regime critics of abuse,
electric shocks, sexual humiliation and threats of
physically harming relatives. There was also evidence that
at least one prisoner had previously been killed in a Uzbek
prison. Mental torture was reported to be increasingly
common against those arrested accused of Islamic extremism.
One woman told her her husband had to crawl naked for hours
and that prison guards urinated on him and other prisoners
when they prayed.
In May, dissident Umida Niazova was sentenced to seven
years in prison. for smuggling out social literature in the
country and funding local groups with money from foreign
embassies. According to human rights activists, the charges
were politically motivated and linked to the Andizjan
uprising in 2005, when, according to eyewitnesses, several
hundred people were killed by security forces. Andizian
human rights activist Gulbahor Turaeva was sentenced to six
years in prison on charges of similar crimes. Umida Niazova,
who had a small child, was released shortly after she
acknowledged the "crimes" and criticized international human
In the spring, the EU extended the sanctions imposed by
the Union against Uzbekistan following the Andizyan
massacre. This involved, among other things, on oil embargo
and entry ban on Uzbek authorities.
Together with several oil and gas-rich neighboring
countries and major powers China and Russia, Uzbekistan
participated in the summit of the Central Asian Cooperation
Organization SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) in
August. While the US position has weakened in the region in
recent years, America's arch enemy Iran invited as an
observer at the annual summit. The heads of state followed
up the meeting with a trip to Russia to witness the SCO's
first joint military maneuver, intended as an exercise in
fighting rebel groups.
In September, it was announced that presidential
elections would be held in December. The exiled leader of
the Erk opposition party, Muchammad Salich, said the
opposition was expecting nothing more than the re-election
of authoritarian Islam Karimov, who has ruled since 1989.
According to official results, Karimov received 88.1 percent
of the vote and turnout was said to be over 90 percent.
European observers judged the election and also questioned
the number of voters.
The ICG think tank, International Crisis Group, warned
during the year that Uzbekistan is a serious threat "to
itself and to the region". According to the ICG, there is no
clear evidence that the radical Islamic groups pose such a
threat as the regime claims to justify its repressive
policies. This could increase support for the radicals,
according to the ICG.
In October, the EU decided to temporarily ease its
sanctions against Uzbekistan for six months. However, the
arms embargo was retained. It was mainly Germany who pushed
to ease the sanctions against the oil and gas-rich country.
In October in Kyrgyzstan, near the border with
Uzbekistan, a 26-year-old journalist of Uzbek descent was
murdered in October, known for his critical reporting on the
Andizan massacre. Human rights groups suspected that Uzbek
agents could be behind the murder. Kyrgyzstan's security
police seized computers and mobiles at the murdered
journalist's editorial office, and human rights groups
feared the details of his contacts would be left to the
Uzbek security service for assault against other regime
British and Swedish TV reported at the end of the year
about child labor in Uzbekistan cotton fields and that
cotton picked by children is used in the Hennes & Mauritz