Defence Secretary meets Uzbek dictator

Human rights activists outraged at visit to discuss military co-operation

Moscow

The British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has met with Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan and one of the world's most ruthless dictators, in Tashkent to discuss closer military co-operation.

Mr Hammond made no public mention of widespread human rights abuses during his trip to the country earlier this week, but found time to lay flowers at an official monument and was received in Mr Karimov's personal residence.

Between them, Mr Hammond and the Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey are visiting all five Central Asian "Stans" this week, in visits aimed at seeking agreement on transit routes for the withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan. All five countries have major human rights issues, but Uzbekistan is usually singled out for particular criticism.

Mr Hammond met with Mr Karimov on Tuesday. The Uzbek President's office said that a wide range of issues had been discussed during the "sincere meeting", including "furthering bilateral military and military-technical cooperation". Uzbek security forces are believed to have killed hundreds when they opened fire on demonstrators in the city of Andijan in 2005, but have refused an international investigation into the events.

"As the British Government steps up its engagement with the Uzbek government on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it must not abdicate a responsibility to address the abysmal human rights situation inside Uzbekistan," said Steve Swerdlow, researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Torture is widespread in detention facilities, numerous activists remain behind bars, and media outlets and NGOs have been barred from the country."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson denied yesterday that the human rights concerns were brushed under the carpet during the trip. "Our defence engagement with Uzbekistan absolutely does not change our stance on human rights, which will remain an essential component of our work," said the spokesperson."This includes when necessary raising our human rights concerns with the Uzbek Government, which we do robustly."

Mr Harvey is still on his trip to Central Asia and is expected to meet with heads of state in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has just been re-elected with 97 percent of the vote. He is the subject of one of the world's most surreal personality cults, and recently announced that an "era of supreme happiness" is underway in the country. There is no free media or any opposition politicians in the country.

Islam Karimov: Enemy of dissent

Uzbekistan is one of the world's most vicious dictatorships with no dissent tolerated. On the one occasion, in the city of Andijan in 2005, Mr Karimov's security forces opened fire on the protesters, killing hundreds. The Uzbek regime refused to allow an independent investigation. Children are taken out of school for weeks at a time to pick cotton and Western journalists are mostly barred from entering the country.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments