West turning blind eye to torture in Uzbekistan, says report

Moscow

The West is turning a blind eye to a worsening human rights situation in one of the world's most repressive dictatorships, according to a report released yesterday.

Human Rights Watch says torture continues to be widespread in the jails of Uzbekistan, but the US and EU have given the brutal regime of Islam Karimov an easy ride, due to the country's strategic location bordering Afghanistan.

The report makes for difficult reading, detailing a litany of torture cases including beatings, electric shocks, asphyxiation and threats of sexual violence. In one case, a detainee had cold water poured over his naked body and was then left with two high-speed fans pointed at him so that he would freeze. In another case, a prisoner was doused in boiling water, reminiscent of the infamous cases in 2002 when an international investigation found that two detainees suspected of terrorism had been boiled alive.

Relations between the West and Uzbekistan deteriorated after the massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians in the city of Andijan in 2005. The Uzbek authorities refused an international investigation and soon became a pariah state.

But as relations between the US and Pakistan deteriorated, Uzbekistan became more important to Nato as a supply route to Afghanistan. In October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country to thank Mr Karimov for his support, and earlier this year Mr Karimov was received by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Cables released by Wikileaks show that US diplomats urged top officials to sideline issues such as torture and forced child labour in meetings with Uzbek leaders to avoid controversy. In 2004, Britain sacked its ambassador to the country, Craig Murray, after he made a number of outspoken criticisms of the regime. In 2008, Mr Karimov's regime promised to introduce a raft of legal reforms, which were the stimulus for improved relations with the EU and the US, but the report's authors find that in reality, the situation has only worsened.

Most international organisations have been forced to leave Uzbekistan, including Human Rights Watch itself earlier this year, and journalists are rarely admitted.

"Based on the clients I visit in pre-trial detention, I believe torture has increased over the past several years," an Uzbek lawyer who did not want to be identified told Human Rights Watch. "But the fact is there is simply no one left to witness what is happening and communicate it to the world."

The wife of one torture victim gave a particularly harrowing account of the treatment that her husband had received in pre-trial detention. "Officers would hang him from the ceiling by his wrists, and eight or nine people one after the other would beat him," she said. "He told me that several times guards and detainees were brought into the interrogations and were given needles to poke under his nails. Guards handcuffed him to his cell once and burned his penis."

Her husband was so traumatised by the interrogation tactics that he attempted to commit suicide by cutting open his veins with his teeth.

"The West has to wake up to the fact that Uzbekistan is a pariah state with one of the worst human rights records," said Steve Swerdlow, Uzbekistan researcher at Human Rights Watch yesterday. "Being located next to Afghanistan should not give Uzbekistan a pass on its horrendous record of torture and repression."

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
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

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: LSA's required! West Midlands

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: PRU teachers required in an SEN sch...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor