Flash protest around the official visit to Brussels of the president Karimov

Press release

Brussels, Monday 24 january 2011 - On the eve of the first visit to Brussels of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) wishes to express its extreme concern about the situation of human rights in Uzbekistan where 16 human rights defenders, including 8 members of FIDH member organisation, HRSU, remain detained.

FIDH denounces the invitation sent by the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, to a dictator directly responsible for massive human rights violations in the absence of any improvement on the human rights situation and of any demonstrated willingness to positively engage on this matter.

The secrecy surrounding this visit, its focus on energy negociations reinforce FIDH assessment that human rights are kept far from the centre of EU-Uzbekistan relations.

After having lifted the EU sanctions against the regime despite the fact that none of the criteria to lift it were met -including the establishment of a commission of enquiry on the massacre of Andijan - the European Union is sending again an extremely worrying signal to Uzbek human rights defenders and to the international human rights community.

Together with Uzbek human rights defenders, including Mutabar Tadjibaeva who was detained and tortured in Uzbek jails before her liberation in 2008, FIDH will denounce the EU lack of consistency in defending the core values of human rights and democratic principles and will set up flash mobilisation in favour of detained Uzbek human rights defenders in front of the European Commission building on Monday 24 January, at 10.15am.

FIDH will call upon the EU to:

* use all its insturments and leverages to obtain the release of all detained human rights defenders ;

* condition any further development of EU-Uzbek relations to concrete improvements of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan ;

* establish specific benchmarks and objectives to be reached annualy in the framework of the EU-Uzbekistan human rights dialogue and to suspend it if these objectives can not be reached ;

* invite Uzbek and international human rights defenders to a debriefing with Mr Barroso himself.

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