EU imposes sanctions on Uzbekistan

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The Independent Online

The decision yesterday, to be approved by EU foreign ministers on Monday, marks a hardening by the international community against Tashkent. Criticism of the Uzbek authorities from Washington has already led to the US being ordered to remove its airbase at Karshi-Khanabad, in the south-east.

The toughly worded text, drafted by EU ambassadors, highlighted the "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Uzbek security forces" on anti-government protesters in Andijan, in the east, on 12 May. Ministers are "to impose an embargo on exports ... of arms, military and other equipment that might be used for internal repression".

The declaration was approved unanimously by the senior diplomats, making it almost certain to go through on the nod on Monday. Visa bans will apply to "those individuals directly responsible for the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in Andijan". Other measures include cuts to European aid programmes; some of the remaining aid money will be redirected to pro-democracy NGOs.

Unrest erupted on 12 May after supporters of 23 local businessmen, accused of Islamic extremism, broke into Andijan's prison and freed them. Armed men then occupied the town hall and sparked a huge anti-government protest. Witnesses say more than 500 people were killed by security forces. The government has rejected demands for an international investigation.