An bad sign before Umida’s trial….
BISHKEK: Uzbekistan’s government effectively barred the United Nations’ human rights commissioner from visiting the tightly controlled country during a tour of ex-Soviet nations in Central Asia, the commissioner said Wednesday.
Starting her tour in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said Uzbek authorities had told her office that officials would not be available to meet her.
“To our request for a meeting, Uzbek authorities said they would have no time,” Arbour said, according to a Russian translation of her comments. The government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov is described by human rights groups as one of the most repressive in Central Asia.
The UN torture envoy concluded after visiting Uzbekistan in 2002 that torture was systematic in Uzbek places of detention. Rights groups say that in recent years Karimov’s government has jailed thousands of innocent dissident Muslims, branding them extremists.
In May 2005, Uzbek troops killed hundreds of mostly unarmed protesters in the eastern city of Andijan, according to witnesses and rights groups. Authorities blamed the uprising on alleged Islamic radicals and said fewer than 200 people were killed, mostly militants. Karimov rejected calls for an international probe and stepped up the crackdown on dissent.
After meeting with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and other officials in the capital, Bishkek, Arbour said she was concerned about frequent cases of domestic violence against Kyrgyz women, including the abduction of young women for forced marriage. Arbour is also expected to visit Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. ap