London, UK, December 22 – The long prison sentences handed out today to 41 people for their alleged role in the Andijan massacre following closed trials in Tashkent is the latest chapter in the ongoing campaign of torture, intimidation and killing against all those who dare to speak out against the corruption, tyranny and unjust practices of the Uzbek regime.
The sentencing of 41 Uzbeks brings to 114 the total number who have now been sentenced for their alleged role in the events in Andijan in May 2005. The regime has blamed Islamic groups, journalists, media outlets and foreign governments for instigating the events, even though it is clear from eyewitnesses that what happened in Andijan was a brutal government perpetrated massacre of over 7,000 unarmed civilians. Human Rights Watch [HRW] has collated "numerous first-hand testimonies of a brutal police campaign forcing people to 'confess' that they belong to extremist religious organizations, that the protests in Andijan were violent, and that the protesters were armed." HRW also notes that, "the scale of this killing was so extensive, and its nature was so indiscriminate and disproportionate, that it can best be described as a massacre."
Commenting on today's verdict, Dr Imran Waheed, a media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "The ongoing repression of political dissent in Uzbekistan continues under the guise of 'fighting terrorism' with the tacit support of Western governments. When crowds demonstrated in Ukraine, Lebanon and Georgia this was welcomed by Western governments as people power but when thousands are butchered by Uzbek security forces these same governments turn a blind eye. This is hypocrisy ? supporting unelected dictators who boil their people alive while preaching freedom, democracy and the rule of law."
"Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov, who ordered the Andijan massacre, remains free and was recently receiving medical treatment in Germany despite an EU visa ban. The German Federal Prosecutor has been requested by a group of victims to open a criminal investigation and pursue Almatov on three counts: individual crimes of torture, torture as a crime against humanity, and the Andijan massacre itself as a crime against humanity. Will Western governments yet again turn a blind eye to the Uzbek regime's brutality?"