Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Senators Strongly Criticize Uzbek Government

Until Sunday, American officials had downplayed events in Uzbekistan earlier this month in which government troops cracked down on protesting civilians in the town of Andjian and surrounding areas. Meeting in Tashkent with members of four Uzbek opposition parties and the American ambassador, Republican senators John McCain, John Sununu and Lindsey Graham "called for an international investigation into the violence. They also issued a stern rebuke to Uzbekistan's authoritarian government," reports C.J. Chivers in the New York Times.

The Ukrainian government of Islam Karimov has admitted that some 173 people were killed in the uprising of May 13, but human rights groups and others aver that "several hundred" civilians were killed.

McCain: "History shows that continued repression of human rights leads to tragedies such as the one that just took place. ... When governments repress or oppress their people, sooner or later, if they have no avenue of expressing their desire for freedom, violence takes place." The Times reports that, unlike prior statements from the Bush Administration, the senators "did not characterize the gunmen or escaped prisoners who initiated the revolt as militants or terrorists," as the Uzbek government has been doing.

The senators called for an independent investigation into the crackdown by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; as the Times notes, the EU, NATO, UN and several governments have also called for reviews, which Karimov has thus far rejected. At his press conference today, President Bush said he's called for an investigation by the International Red Cross, noting "we want to know fully what took place there in Uzbekistan."

Neither Karimov nor government representatives would meet with the American senators, a step Sununu called "counterproductive."

I haven't yet found the full text of the senators' statement, but if I do I'll post it. McCain, Sununu and Graham ought to be applauded for their strong words ... we could only wish that Bush's statement matched theirs in its candor.


Post a Comment

<< Home