FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2015 | USCIRF
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Andijon massacre. On May 13, 2005, as many as 1,000 people were killed when Uzbek soldiers fired indiscriminately and without warning into a crowd of demonstrators in the city of Andijon during a largely peaceful protest in support of 23 local businessmen on trial for alleged ties to Islamic extremism.
“The Andijon tragedy is a black mark which will remain until the Uzbek government allows a credible investigation of this tragic event and undertakes the necessary reforms to respect religious freedom and human rights,” said USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. “While Uzbekistan faces legitimate security concerns, these concerns cannot be used as excuses to violate the religious freedom and human rights of its citizens.”
In the aftermath of the Andijon massacre, Uzbek authorities ignored calls for an international investigation and jailed hundreds of local residents, human rights activists, and journalists. USCIRF observed in its recently released 2015 Annual Report that the Uzbek government’s harsh campaign against those Muslims who are independent from state-sanctioned Islam continues as it targets those linked to the May 2005 Andijon protests. The government also has imprisoned 231 people for their alleged connection to this event, including ten prisoners who died in detention. Uzbekistan also continues to pressure countries to return Uzbek refugees who fled after the Andijon tragedy.
“Uzbekistan represents one of the worst nations in the world for religious freedom. The State Department since 2006 has named Uzbekistan as a ‘country of particular concern' for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. The U.S. and international community must condemn the Uzbek government for its culpability in the tragic events related to Andijon and ongoing government repression of religious freedom and related human rights,” concluded Dr. Lantos Swett.
The 2015 USCIRF Annual Report also noted that the government of Uzbekistan imprisons individuals who do not conform to officially-prescribed practices or whom it claims are extremist, including as many as 12,000 Muslims. USCIRF has called for the U.S. Government to make U.S. assistance – except for humanitarian assistance and human rights programs – contingent on the Uzbek government’s adoption of specific actions to improve religious freedom conditions and comply with international human rights standards, including reforming the 1998 religion law and permitting an international investigation into the 2005 Andijon events.
Click here to view the full 2015 Annual Report.
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