TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – This week, the European Union (EU) begins its twice-yearly review of the current sanctions placed on Uzbekistan and it will decide whether the current suspension on those sanctions should continue. The sanctions were originally instated in response to the Andijan Massacre, an incident in 2005 when the Uzbek government fired into a crowd of protesters, killing hundreds and then allegedly hiding the bodies in mass graves.
When the EU originally placed sanctions on Uzbekistan, it had also demanded that an independent international investigation be conducted. The investigation has not yet taken place.
As the sanction review takes place this week, human rights organizations are demanding that the EU reinstate sanctions, assure that an investigation take place, and remember why they imposed sanctions initially. They point out that if the EU does not do these things, it will be condoning impunity in Uzbekistan.
However, many expect that the suspension on the sanctions will continue due to recent positive steps taken by the Uzbek government. If that is true, then the sanctions will likely become insignificant as they expire in October 2008 and will not likely be renewed due to the lack of support by many EU states.
“The EU cannot forget why it imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan in the first place – to push for an independent investigation of the killing of hundreds of people protesting against the government,” stated Natalia Alonso, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s EU office. She noted that three years had passed and the “families of the [Andijan] victims are still waiting for justice.”
For more information, please see:
Amnesty International – Uzbekistan: EU must not forget the mass killings of Andizhan – 28 April 2008
Human Rights Watch – Keep the Momentum for Rights Reform in Uzbekistan – 26 April 2008