2005 05 20
U.S.-Uzbekistan Relations

Nathan asks some good questions.

Howls of outrage (2)

2004 07 15

I didn’t have a chance yesterday to note that the State Department has refused to certify Uzbekistan, citing concerns about human rights and democratization. Since almost day one of my blogging career I have been urging this as the correct policy, absent significant changes in the country’s regime. But the issue is not an easy one, and I’ve come to see that some ambivalence is in order. I owe some of my ambivalence to the well-informed and intelligent criticism of decertification coming from The Argus, an excellent site devoted to all things Central Asian. And so, as soon as I get get the time to sort my thoughts out, I will try to explain why I think the folks at The Argus have got decertification, and indeed, the general thrust of U.S. “democracy building” wrong.

Howls of outrage (2)

2004 06 15
Rubber Hose on Uzbekistan

Rubber Hose, an intrepid traveler who has actually seen Uzbekistan with his own eyes (unlike your armchair correspondent), comments on my post about Uzbekistan earlier today:
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Howls of outrage (2)

2004 06 15
Jarvik on Uzbekistan

Over at The Argus, Laurence Jarvik urges the U.S. not to cut aid to Uzbekistan, arguing that it plays a positive role in the country, and that cutting it would only push Uzbekistan towards China and Russia – obviously countries with even less interest in promoting democracy. Since I’ve urged precisely the opposite position on Uzbekistan here, Jarvik’s post is worth noting. A sample or two:
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 05 26

Three pieces of interest to Uzbekistan watchers below the fold.
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 04 23
A Start

From State:

Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 23, 2004

Uzbekistan Rescinds Open Society Registration

The United States is disappointed that the Government of Uzbekistan decided last week not to renew the registration of the Open Society Institute (OSI), a non-governmental organization active in democratization programs, to continue U.S.-funded and other work in Uzbekistan. The Open Society Institute receives funding from the United States and has spent close to $22 million in Uzbekistan in order to help build a vibrant civil society.

This jeopardizes valuable assistance programs a $16.7 million Drug Demand Reduction Program and a $12 million Basic Education program.

In the 2002 Strategic Partnership Framework, the Governments of Uzbekistan and the United States pledged to work together to strengthen democratic institutions in Uzbekistan. The work of OSI in Uzbekistan supports these goals.

That’s a start, but if it stays talk it doesn’t count for much. Regimes like Uzbekistan’s know that foreign donors have to squawk a bit when they do something awful. The only thing they care about is what the foreign donors actually do. The fact that the regime felt comfortable enough to kick out the OSI suggests that they are gambling on the U.S. doing little more than squawk. The fact the U.S. is putting out a statement rather than taking firmer measures suggests that it had either failed to issue a timely warning about consequences, or had already decided that it would hold the line at squawking.

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2004 04 21
Uzbekistan and the Open Society Institute

Via Oxblog, I see that the Uzbekistan government has decided to give the Open Society Institute the boot. This is really terrible news, since the Open Society Institute obviously did good work attempting to build civil society in the country.
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2003 06 03
Worth Repeating

Here’s a recent press release from Human Right Watch:

Uzbekistan: Torture Death in Prison

(New York, June 3, 2003)-Another Uzbek prisoner was tortured to
death, contradicting U.S. claims that Uzbekistan is making
progress on human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

Otamaza Gafarov was due to be released in September from Chirchik
prison in northern Uzbekistan. Instead, he died there on May 3,
apparently from torture.

Human Rights Watch received information about his death shortly
after the U.S. State Department issued a memorandum certifying
that Uzbekistan has made “substantial and continuing progress” in
respecting human rights.

“Another prisoner tortured to death in Uzbekistan is not
progress-it is more of the same,” said Elizabeth Andersen,
executive director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of
Human Rights Watch. “This is the tenth torture-related death in
custody we’ve documented in the past year and a half. The State
Department’s claims of human rights progress simply do not
reflect reality.”

Family members who helped to wash Gafarov’s body told Human
Rights Watch that they observed a large wound to his head that
appeared to have been caused by a sharp object. There was also
bruising to the back of his head. Gafarov’s rib cage, chest and
throat were also bruised, and his hands were scratched.

The State Department memorandum, signed in May 2003, specifically
cited torture among the areas where the Uzbek government had made
progress. The memorandum certifies that Uzbekistan made overall
progress in meeting its human rights and democracy commitments
under the “Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and
Cooperation Framework” that the two countries signed in March
2002. The certification is required semi-annually to release U.S.
assistance to the Uzbek government.

The March 2002 declaration committed Uzbekistan to ensuring a
“strong and open civil society,” “respect for human rights and
freedoms,” a “genuine multi-party system,” “free and fair
elections,” “political pluralism, diversity of opinions and the
freedom to express them,” “the independence of the media” and
“independence of the courts.”

In a critique of the memorandum (available at:, Human
Rights Watch noted that the State Department cited isolated
positive steps taken by the Uzbek government without
acknowledging ongoing practices that undermine these nominal
measures. The critique describes ongoing setbacks, including
torture-related deaths in custody; new arrests and convictions
based on peaceful religious expression; denial of the right to
register for political opposition parties; dismissals,
intimidation, and beatings of journalists; and harassment and
arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders.

With regard to torture, the State Department cited the Uzbek
government’s “adequate cooperation” with the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Torture Theo van Boven during his December 2002
visit as evidence that the government “has become more willing to
discuss torture.” In fact, Mr. van Boven has made clear that he
did not receive adequate cooperation. Moreover, the Uzbek
government has taken no serious steps to implement his
recommendations for ending torture.

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