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Yearbook 2007

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.

2007 Uzbekistan

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 rights organizations.

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 critics.

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 clothing chain.

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