Uzbek President Islam Karimov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
December 1, 2006 -- Uzbekistan's rights activists are urging the European Union to increase its pressure on President Islam Karimov and expand the sanctions imposed on his government after last year's military crackdown in Andijon.
The independent uznews.net website says the call was made at a meeting held on November 30 by seven civic campaigners at the British Embassy in Tashkent.
The EU last month (November 13) extended its post-Andijon sanctions regime for another six months, but voted no new measures. Uzbekistan, in return, pledged to start a human rights dialogue with the bloc.
Uzbek rights campaigners on December 30 suggested that the EU expand its sanctions to all imports of Uzbek cotton, whose production is associated with widespread rights abuses.
One participant, Surat Ikramov of the Initiative Group of Human Rights Defenders, said the liberation of all Uzbek political prisoners should become the EU's "priority No. 1."
Ikramov handed British officials a list of 16 people whom he said were thrown into jail on trumped-up charges.
Among them are Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mutabar Tojiboeva, 69-year-old rights campaigner Yodgor Turlibekov, and Jamshid Karimov -- a nephew of the Uzbek president.