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Uzbekistan Warns UN Against Rights Meddling

November 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's top diplomat has warned the international community against using the issue of human rights as a "pretext" for interfering in countries' internal affairs, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.

Speaking at a UN General Assembly session on October 31, Uzbek Ambassador to the UN Alisher Vohidov said international cooperation on human rights must be transparent and fair.

Vohidov said such cooperation "must be based on equality, mutual respect, social and economic development, and historical and cultural traditions."

Uzbekistan's human rights record has long been criticized by right groups and Western governments, some of which gave Tashkent the cold shoulder after a security crackdown killed hundreds of demonstrators in the eastern city of Andijon in May 2005. Observers say the human rights situation has worsened since the incident, in which security forces opened fire on a public demonstration.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov's opponents have accused him of trying to crush all dissent. Karimov has repeatedly rejected calls for an international inquiry into the events in Andijon, and local journalists and rights activists who tried to investigate or comment on the Andijon uprising have faced harassment and arrest.

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