Scottish MEP condemns human rights abuses in Uzbekistan

Smith criticises UK Government for double standards

The European Parliament has today (Thursday) passed a resolution to bring Uzbekistan to the UN Human Rights Council and urging Uzbek authorities to release immediately political prisoners, warning that unless there is progress within the next six months, the EU will impose targeted punitive measures.

Speaking in the debate, Scottish Member of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Alyn Smith criticised the UK Government for turning a blind eye on human rights and for the ill-treatment of Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Tashkent, who fought to expose the regime.

Smith said:

“There is little sign that things in Uzbekistan are improving and, indeed, real evidence that individual states and the international community are turning a blind eye to flagrant abuses.

“Recently we’ve heard from the International Labour Organisation estimates that around one million Uzbek adults and children are pressed into forced labour in the cotton harvest.

“This blind eye does go back a long way.  Back in 2004, Craig Murray, who was the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, uncovered evidence of a man who had been boiled to death by the regime for refusal to give up his faith and pledge allegiance to the regime. This was verified by Glasgow University, but instead of applauding Mr Murray’s diligence the UK hounded him from office.

“So if the UK and other member states won’t take a lead the EU is in a position to do so, we have cleaner hands than most, perhaps.  In the motion we call on the EU to take bring Uzbekistan to the UN Human Rights Council as a way to bring some pressure on the regime.

“The EU should take the lead and encourage the UN to establish a dedicated country specific mechanism for Uzbekistan. We must stick to our principles or else Uzbekistan could become a breeding ground for antiestablishment extremists.”