Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

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  • Suspected followers of the Turkish Muslim theologian, Said Nursi, were convicted in a series of trials that had begun in 2009 and continued into 2010. The charges against them included membership or creation of an illegal religious extremist organization and publishing or distributing materials threatening the social order. By December 2010, at least 114 men had been sentenced to prison terms of between six and 12 years following unfair trials. Reportedly, some of the verdicts were based on confessions gained under torture in pre-trial detention; defence and expert witnesses were not called; access to the trials was in some cases obstructed while other trials were closed.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

The authorities briefly granted temporary shelter to tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbek refugees who fled violence in neighbouring southern Kyrgyzstan in June. The authorities allowed emergency teams from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, access to Uzbekistan and the refugee camps, the first time since ordering the agency to leave the country in 2006. Security forces tightly controlled the movement of the refugees, including those injured and in hospitals, and their contact with the outside world. At the end of June all but a couple of thousand refugees returned to Kyrgyzstan amid concern that the returns were not genuinely voluntary and that Kyrgyzstani and Uzbekistani local authorities had put pressure on them.

International scrutiny

Five years after the killing of hundreds of mainly peaceful demonstrators by the security forces in Andizhan on 13 May 2005, the authorities continued to reject all calls for an independent, international investigation. The lifting of sanctions by the EU was cited as evidence that the matter was now closed.

At the UN Human Rights Committee's examination of Uzbekistan's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in March, the Uzbekistani delegation denied that human rights defenders were detained and persecuted. The delegation insisted that Uzbekistan's "enemies" were waging an "information war" against the country and that international NGOs were paid to spread defamation and disinformation.