Uzbek-American consultations begin in Washington

Uzbek foreign affairs minister Abdulaziz Kamilov was received in Washington in March 2013 by Secretary of State John Kerry
Uzbek delegation is set to meet with its American counterparts on December 9-11 in Washington. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on the negotiators to focus on relations between the two countries after the American troops are pulled out from Afghanistan.

According to the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs the delegation led by minister Kamilov is set to have political consultations and meetings with the members of the US Congress and several departments.

The Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch Steve Swerdlow calls the current negotiations the key event in the relationship between the US and Uzbekistan.

According to Swerdlow, the two sides are set to discuss an array of issues, especially in the political and military spheres. He points out that questions of human rights are on the bottom of the agenda.

The human rights activist believes that Washington currently views Uzbekistan through the prism of the war in Afghanistan. The American troops need access to friendly territory during the withdrawal of the troops from Afghanistan next year.

However after the US and troops from other NATO countries are pulled out by the end of 2014 the need for Uzbek military bases and roads will diminish.

Swerdlow believes that both countries need to start building the foundation for future relations today. The focus should be on the current situation in Uzbekistan, its problems and circumstances.  

“We want the US to unequivocally say to Uzbekistan that if no significant changes are made there will be consequences. The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end,” says Swerdlow.

A roundtable discussion is scheduled for the next few days which will focus on the situation with human rights in the country. One of the questions that will be discussed is the forced sterilization of women in the country.  

The Human Rights Watch called on the regime in Uzbekistan to release political prisoners in honor of the 21st anniversary of the Uzbek constitution.

The organization lists thirty-three individuals who should be released but Swerdlow pointed out that it is not a complete list.

For Constitution Day Uzbek authorities regularly announce an amnesty. Such amnesties generally apply to those convicted of less serious offenses and for specific demographic categories such as teenagers, women and prisoners over age sixty. However, those imprisoned on politically motivated charges are almost never released. Political prisoners who would otherwise be eligible for amnesty are denied year after year for alleged infractions of internal prison regulations. 

We want the US to unequivocally inform Uzbekistan that if no significant changes are made there will be consequences. The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end.

Steve Swerdlow

Among those whose immediate release HRW has asked for include human rights activists and workers, journalists, political opposition and religious leaders. They are: Agzam Turgunov, Azam Farmonov, Salijon Abdurakhmanov, Nosir Isakov, Zulhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Holdarov, Gajbullo Djalilov, Bobomuros Razzakov, Muhammad Bekzhan, Akrom Yuldashev, Ruhiddin Fahriddinov, Yusof Ruzimuradov and many others.

The Human Rights Watch believes that the US should additionally demand that the Uzbek government to allow access to the 11 UN experts who have requested invitations, including the UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on torture; allow the International Committee of the Red Cross prison monitors access to prisoners; register all NGOs that have applied for operating licenses; and to allow journalists and activists freedom to write and protest.