Notorious Uzbek ‘blacklist’ reduced
Uzbekistan is reportedly removing large numbers of people from its blacklist of potential militants and political dissidents, in a further move towards liberalisation under the new president.
Activists say Uzbekistan’s blacklist has been used indiscriminately to stifle political and religious dissent in the rigidly secular, ex-Soviet state.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev needs to attract more foreign investment to help modernise the export-dependent economy and ease rising unemployment.
He has liberalised some rules on foreign exchange and “exit visas” for nationals and has spoken of the need to rehabilitate those who have been “misled” by radical Islamic groups.
The Tashkent media said the reduction of the blacklist was a personal initiative by Mirziyoyev, who took the top job last September after the death of Islam Karimov, who ruled for 27 years.
The state’s Committee on Religious Affairs and the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan confirmed the process but no numbers of those removed have been announced.
The decisions were made on a case-by-case basis by special commissions that included civil servants and Muslim clerics, a government source told Reuters.
“There were around 650 people on the list in our district and 570 of them were pardoned and excluded from the list,” said the anonymous commission member.
“Many of them once were indeed members of banned extremist groups, jailed and later freed after serving prison terms or amnestied,” the source said.
The reform could also suggest the SNB security service, whose leader Rustam Inoyatov was close to Karimov, is losing influence.
Under Karimov, anyone included on the blacklist finds themselves socially ostracised without necessarily facing any criminal charges. They usually have to report their whereabouts to the authorities and seek permission to leave their district.
This month several Uzbek dissidents announced on social media that they had been removed from the blacklist.
As part of Mirziyoyev process of liberalisation, the Uzbek city of Namangan hosted a further round of negotiations of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz Intergovernmental Commission on the delimitation and demarcation of the state border.
Talks lasted for nine days and ended at the weekend, according to Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry website.
The sides continued joint work on the demarcation of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border with field surveys also being conducted.
The 1,378km border has about 50 sections spanning about 300km which have not been delimitated.
Uzbekistan is hoping to boost tourist numbers. Picture credit: Eurasia Times