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EU Concerned At Opposition Jailings In Uzbekistan

Nodira Hidoyatova, a leading figure in the opposition Sunshine Coalition given a 10-year prison sentence on March 1. (Courtesy Photo) March 10, 2006 -- The European Union says it is troubled by the recent jailings of opposition figures in Uzbekistan.

In a March 10 statement, the EU presidency says it has "learned with concern" about the March 6 conviction of Sanjar Umarov, head of the opposition Sunshine Uzbekistan coalition and the March 1 sentencing of Nodira Hidoyatova, the coalition's coordinator. Both were imprisoned for 10 years.

Umarov and Hidoyatova had publicly criticized the Uzbek authorities for the bloody crackdown on protesters in Andijon in May 2005.

The statement also expresses "grave concern" about the eight- year prison sentence given to Uzbek rights activist Mukhtabar Tojibaeva on March 6. It urges the Uzbek authorities to review the conviction and "ensure a fair trial with access for national and international observers."

The EU has imposed an arms embargo on Uzbekistan and a visa ban on a dozen top Uzbek leaders following Tashkent's refusal to allow an international inquiry into the Andijon events.


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