Sunday, May 15, 2005

Uzbek Death Toll Reaches 500

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online

Freedom is on the march...

The violence presents the US with a diplomatic dilemma: it has hailed Mr Karimov as an ally in the War on Terror since he allowed US Forces to use an airbase for operations in Afghanistan. However, human rights groups have repeatedly accused the US and Britain of muting their criticism of abuses in Uzbekistan....

The violence was triggered by the trial in Andijan of 23 businessmen accused of belonging to Akramiya, a group which the Government says has links to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a banned movement seeking to create an Islamic state in Central Asia. Rights groups say Mr Karimov has had thousands of political opponents jailed by accusing them of being Islamic extremists.

The issue was highlighted by Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was recalled after accusing Britain and the US of tacitly condoning Uzbek rights abuses.

Mr Murray writes in The Guardian today: “The bodies of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Uzbekistan are scarcely cold, and already the White House is looking for ways to dismiss them . . . Karimov remains in power. The White House will be happy. That’s enough for No 10.”

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