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Rights Group Calls On EU To Stay Firm On Uzbek Abuses

Rights groups complain that the crackdown in Andijon has continued since many were killed in May 2005 (AFP) May 7, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights today urged the European Union to take a firm stand against human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.

A statement issued today by the Vienna-based group says the EU's planned dialogue with Uzbekistan on human rights issues should not be "an excuse for watering down EU sanctions."

It says the EU needs to ensure that the loosening or lifting of sanctions against Uzbekistan is linked to compliance with clear human rights benchmarks.

EU officials are expected to make a decision in the coming days on the extension, reduction, or elimination of sanctions imposed after Tashkent's refusal to allow an independent probe of a deadly crackdown in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon on May 13, 2005.

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