"One can't keep silent": The persecution of human rights defenders in Uzbekistan in the aftermath of Andijan

from International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Published on 14 Jul 2005

The persecution of human rights defenders, independent human rights organizations, independent journalists and members of opposition political movements in Uzbekistan is a matter of longstanding concern, presenting one of the most serious human rights challenges in the OSCE region and, for that matter, in the entire world.

Following the events on 13 and 14 May 2005, when hundreds of innocent civilian demonstrators were gunned down by Uzbek security forces in Andijan these problems became significantly more acute. See annex 4. In consultation with the IHF Executive Committee and the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, the IHF Secretariat organized a fact-finding mission to investigate and document the plight of human rights defenders in the context of the Uzbek authorities' increasing efforts to repress civil society.

The mission visited Uzbekistan on 13-17 June 2005. The mission team included Eliza Moussaeva of the IHF Secretariat, Eldar Zeynalov of the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan and Dzmitry Markusheuski of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. The mission also worked in close cooperation with colleagues from the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan and Human Rights Watch.

The mission met numerous activists from local human rights groups in the Tashkent, Andijan, Fergana, Namangan, Djisak, and Samarkand provinces as well as diplomats from the US and Belarusian embassies, officers of the OSCE, and representatives of Freedom House and Human Rights Watch. Unfortunately, the mission's attempts to contact the National Center of Human Rights, Ombudsman's and various Prosecutor's Offices were unsuccessful. At the same time that the mission was meeting with various representatives, the Uzbek First Vice-Prosecutor General was meeting with foreign diplomats from the international working group on monitoring of the investigation of the Andijan events.

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