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As the world marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has received the tragic news of the death of Abdurasul Khudoynazarov, a 58-year old human rights activist from Uzbekistan.
In connection with the upcoming meeting between Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the European Parliament, the NHC is one of the signatories on an open letter initiated by the International Human Rights Association adressed to the chairman of the European Parliament Mr. Elmar Brook, where we challenge him to adress the serious and systematic human rights violations that are happening every day in Uzbekistan. Read the letter below.
Usbekistan er det mest folkerike landet i Sentral-Asia. Det er også et av de mest undertrykkende regimene i verden, under ledelse av president Islam Karimov. Etter massakren i Andizhan i 2005, har landet i praksis vært stengt for utenlandske menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og nyhetsbyråer. Helsingforskomiteen følger utviklingen i Usbekistan gjennom kontakt med det marginaliserte sivilsamfunnet innad i landet og har blant annet engasjert oss gjennom skyggerapporter under høring om Usbekistan i FNs Menneskerettighetskomite og ved å løfte tema som bruken av tortur opp internasjonalt. Den videre utvikling i Usbekistan vil ha stor betydning for Sentral-Asia som region.
Open letter to Czech President:
Together with 27 other human rights organisations, the NHC sent a letter to the Czech President Miloš Zeman, criticizing his decision to invite the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to an official state visit to Prague on 20-22 February. Islam Karimov is the leader of one of the most repressive governments in the world, and should not be rewarded with the prestige and recognition associated with an official state visit. Though the Czech President initially responded to the letter by calling the human rights groups uninformed and hypocritical, on 13 February it was known that Karimov had decided to "postpone" his visit, a decision welcomed by international human rights activists and victims of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan. Read the letter below.
Members of the Civic Solidarity Platform are deeply concerned about the safety of journalist Sergey Naumov, who was arrested by police in his home town Urgench in Khorazm Province, Uzbekistan on Saturday night, 21 September 2013 and later sentenced to 12 days imprisonment for "hooliganism".
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative ideas.
Today, 13 May 2013, eight years have passed since the horrific massacre of civilians by government forces in the Uzbek town of Andijan. In spite of repeated calls from the international community, Uzbekistan still refuses to carry out an independent investigation.
The journalist Elena Bondar has been granted refugee status from the UNHCR. Bondar had been working as a reporter for Ferghana News Agency, the leading news site covering Central Asia, often writing under a pseudonym. Uzbek authorities opened criminal investigations against her, and she was forced to leave the country. Originally, the UNHCR rejected her application for asylum, but the decision was overturned after Bondar lodged an appeal.
NHC's Sentral-Asia kontor:
Det sentralasiatiske landet Usbekistan regnes som et av verdens mest brutale regimer. Det er i dag et mer eller mindre lukket land der hverken journalister eller menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner har tilgang. Ivar Dale, leder for NHCs kontor i Sentral-Asia, har derfor ikke anledning til å åpent undersøke menneskerettighetsbrudd i Usbekistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities to open an investigation.
In a statement supported by other Civic Solidarity Platform members, the NHC expresses regret that Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, did not use her recent visit to Central Asia to raise the human rights challenges in the region. This is particularly disappointing as the EU is about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for its "advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce that the following projects have been selected to receive support from its annual Small Grants Fund.
On 15 October, the well-known Uzbek human rights activist Mutabar Tajibayeva participated in a joint NHC/NOAS seminar on Uzbekistan in Oslo. More than 30 guests from immigration authorities, ministries and other interested attended the seminar and the following movie screening aimed at shedding some light on the human rights situation behind the closed gates of Uzbekistan.
Universal Periodic Review:
– The Norwegian Helsinki Committee remains deeply concerned about the current human rights situation in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which begs improvement on every aspect of fundamental human rights, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. Both states are counted amongst the most repressive not only in the Central Asian region, but also in the world as a whole. Torture, political use of the judiciary and repression of media and civil society is widespread.
Five Year Anniversary of EU Central Asia Strategy:
- Five years on, there is broad consensus that the human rights dialogues established with the Central Asian governments and other measures taken to implement the Strategy’s human rights objectives have not been as effective as desired. The overall human rights situation in Central Asia has not improved in any substantial way and, in some respects, human rights protection has even deteriorated in the countries of the region. NHC is among the signatories of an appeal to the European Union in occation of the five year anniversary of the EU Central Asia strategy.
On 22 and 23 May, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court organized a seminar in Almaty, Kazakhstan with participants from civil society in all five Central Asian republics.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. In addition to our regular program, we are glad to announce that additional grants have been allocated for smaller projects in Kazakhstan. These grants may be up to 9,999 USD, and are intended to support projects in more outlying regions of the country. The deadline and other requirements are the same.
The report “A Chronicle of Violence: The events in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 (Osh Region)”, published today, gives a detailed chronology of the events in the Osh Province in the period 29 April to 15 June 2010, as well as an analysis of available information and statistics related to the violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. The 200-page report was prepared by Memorial Human Rights Center (Russia), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway) and Freedom House (USA).
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is actively and well represented at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on freedom of religion in Central Asia, rule of law in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and freedom of expression in Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. We are organising a side-event on lack of justice after major human rights violations in Russia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally we organise a side-event on strikers' rights in Kazakhstan and we are also co-organising a side-event with particular focus on Ales Bialiatski and the release of political prisoners in Belarus. Below you will find links to the HDIM webpage, all documents from our side-events and interventions and other relevant links.
The NHC is pleased to announce a contest for project proposals aiming at improving the situation regarding human rights, democratization or civil society in Central Asia. All organizations in the region with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. At the same time, we encourage projects targeting political rights in Kazakhstan, minority rights in Tajikistan, and reconciliation and protection of basic human rights after the Osh events in Kyrgyzstan.
On March 16 2011, Human Rights Center Memorial published a comprehensive report covering political repression in Uzbekistan in the period 2009-2010. The report itself is currently available only in Russian language, but the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has translated the summary of this important report by Director of Memorial’s Central Asia Programme, and one of the leading specialists on human rights in Uzbekistan, Vitaliy Ponomarev.