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HRW Urges EU To Press Uzbekistan On Rights Concerns

Andijon residents carry away a body after the government crackdown on antigovernment protesters in May 2005.

Andijon residents carry away a body after the government crackdown on antigovernment protesters in May 2005.

European Union representatives are due to begin a human-rights dialogue with Uzbek authorities today in the capital, Tashkent.

Ahead of the meeting, the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a lengthy report that details HRW's main concerns with respect to the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

"The Uzbek government's human rights record, long marked by repression and abuse, has remained atrocious in the 12 months since the EU last held a human rights dialogue with Uzbekistan," HRW says in the introduction to the report.

"Civil society activists remain the target of constant government intimidation and harassment, and authorities continue to hold more than a dozen human rights defenders, journalists, and other independent civic and political activists on politically motivated grounds."

In addition, HRW says, the Uzbek government persists in its denial of accountability for the massacre of hundreds of mostly unarmed protesters fleeing a demonstration in the city of Andijon in May 2005.

The rights watchdog says it hopes the EU will use the Tashkent dialogue to express profound concern about the abysmal state of human rights in the country.

In its memorandum, HRW issues a set of recommendations of specific steps that it would like to see the EU take up with the Uzbek government, including the release of all wrongfully imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, opposition members, and other activists.

The full HRW memorandum can be found here.

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