CENTRAL ASIA: Weekly news wrap
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
ANKARA, 7 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - This week in Central Asia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday criticised Germany’s decision not to launch an investigation into Uzbekistan’s former interior minister, Zokirjon Almatov, for alleged crimes against humanity during an uprising in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan last May. German law allows prosecution of cases of torture and crimes against humanity regardless of where they were committed and the nationality of the perpetrators and victims. But in this case, federal prosecutors have refused to proceed on the basis that the Uzbek government would not cooperate with an investigation given its record of serious human rights abuses. The European Union (EU) imposed a visa ban against 12 top Uzbek officials it considers responsible for the Andijan crackdown, with Almatov at the top of the list. However, Almatov sought medical treatment in Germany and was granted a visa, a few days before the ban came into force. Eight Uzbek victims, accompanied by HRW, submitted the complaint and will challenge Berlin’s decision. Turkmenistan signed an energy agreement with China on Monday on the construction of a gas pipeline between the two countries, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Tuesday. According to the agreement, signed in Beijing, Turkmenistan will supply China, a rapidly growing economy , with 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas every year for 30 years, beginning in 2009. Turkmenistan has the fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world. At the meeting, Turkmenistan’s Niyazov and his counterpart Hu Jintao also discussed cooperation in fighting terrorism and Chinese investment in Turkmenistan, RFE/RL reported. The US has pledged to give the former Soviet republic US $450,000 to help combat drug trafficking and improve security, English Politics News reported. Washington has sought cooperation on security issues with Turkmenistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan. The country will also be given additional US funds to help develop the justice system, maritime security and English language training projects.An ethnic
Uighur political dissident from China, with Canadian citizenship, was arrested in the Uzbek capital on 27 March, AFP reported on Wednesday.The man was a political activist in China and fled the country in 1996. Beijing has been widely criticised for its poor human rights record in its eastern autonomous region of Xinjiang Uighur. He was given refugee status in Canada in 2002, but was in Uzbekistan to visit his parents who live in the former Soviet country. He now faces possible extradition to China, RFE/RL reported on Wednesday.