Human Rights Watch – Uzbekistan: Government Shuts Off Andijan: The government of Uzbekistan is trying to block information about the killings of hundreds of people in Andijan on May 13, Human Rights Watch said today.
A Human Rights Watch researcher who went to Andijan found new evidence of government measures that prevent the public from learning the full story about the killings and the government’s use of force.
Human Rights Watch urged the United States not to engage in any further discussions with Uzbekistan about making permanent its military base there, and called on the European Union to suspend a major trade agreement until the Uzbek government allows an independent, international inquiry into the May 13 killings.
‘The Uzbek authorities are trying to shut Andijan off from the world,’ said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ‘They’re going to succeed unless other governments insist on a full international investigation, and soon.’
Nearly two weeks after the shootings, Andijan residents whom Human Rights Watch contacted clearly feared government retribution for speaking about the events. A woman who was wounded and lost two family members on May 13 told Human Rights Watch:
‘I am so scared, I don’t want anything, I don’t want any justice. Don’t tell our names, don’t say you came to our house ‘ just say you heard about what happened to us from other people.’
Several people told Human Rights Watch that police had warned them not to talk to journalists or other ‘outsiders.’
One person told Human Rights Watch:
‘Last night there was an [identification] check throughout the neighborhood. Several policemen were checking the documents in every house. They warned us, ‘If the journalists, correspondents come ‘ you should not tell them anything, otherwise we will find you.”
The same person warned Human Rights Watch not to go to the local cemetery where there were reportedly visibly fresh graves, because ‘there is an informant sitting near the gates watching for any strangers who come to the cemetery.’
Andijan remains essentially closed to journalists and human rights investigators. Police have either forced foreign journalists in Andijan to leave or threatened them and their support staff. Police have warned taxi drivers not to take foreign passengers to Andijan. Any traveler to the city must first pass through numerous checkpoints and undergo thorough searches…