UN studies Uzbek rights record 

UN studies Uzbek rights record 

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev first term in office is under scrutiny this week at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva with improvements due to be recommended, as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

May 13 will mark the 13th anniversary of the Andijan massacre when hundreds of peaceful protesters were killed by security forces in the eastern city.

During Uzbekistan’s last UN review in Geneva in April 2013, many diplomats urged Tashkent to tackle its terrible rights record with calls to investigate the Andijan massacre and the use of torture and for the release of thousands of political prisoners, the ending of child and forced labour during the cotton harvest. Uzbekistan denied the allegations and made no commitments to the UN body.

Many of the same problems remain during the 2018 review. 

Mirziyoyev has released many political prisoners and introduced reforms aimed at increasing judicial independence. Journalist Bobomurod Abdullaev and three others, incarcerated on extremism charges, have now been released. 

Last week the authorities transferred Aramais Avakian, who was convicted of Islamic extremism in a high-profile trial from a Tashkent prison to a less-strict colony settlement in his native region of Jizzax in eastern Uzbekistan.

The 36-year-old ethnic Armenian and Christian was convicted for seven years for extremism in February 2016 and for being a sympathiser of the Islamic State group. 

Avakian’s relatives claim the Paxtakor district authorities fabricated the charges against him in order to seize his fish farm.

Avakian’s lawyer, Olim Qobilov, was arrested in March 2016 and was convicted of bribery and extortion and sentenced to seven years in jail. He was released in 2016 without explanation.

Meanwhile, Soviet-era restrictions on speech and assembly are being eased and Mirziyoyev has said he will end forced labour in the cotton sector. But cotton is vital to the Uzbek economy and monitors continue to report cases of students and state-sector employees being forced to work among the spiky crops.

Censorship and barriers to NGO registration remain. 

Mirziyoyev has improved relations with Uzbekistan’s neighbours and a meeting with Kyrgyzstan on delimitation and demarcation of the border was held in the Uzbek city of Jalal-Abad this week. 

The talks discussed opening new border checkpoints.

Human Rights Watch said: “The people of Uzbekistan are only starting now to see a future in which rights abuses and impunity wouldn’t be a daily routine. The UPR debate should do no less than supporting their hopes.”


Uzbekistan is trying to attract more tourists to its architectural wonders. Picture credit: Eurasia Times

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.