MEP Pannella, a radical member of the ALDE Group at the European Parliament, denounced today the ban of over 200 NGOs put in place by the Uzbek Authorities over the last fewmonths.
Despite the uproar that followed the Andijan repression of May 2005, and the sanctions applied by the European Union against the Karimov Administration, the Uzbek regime has once again launched a campaign of repression against the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) present in the country.
Over the last few months, the Tashkent authorities have banned the most important international NGOs (including Freedom House and the Open Society Institute) and around 200 local NGOs.
In the Parliamentary question to the European Council, MEP Pannella stressed the gravity of the new wave of repression and a series of “secret” trials that took place against some of the witnesses of the Andijan massacre. Also, MEP Pannella called on the European Council to use the suspended EU funds (since the imposition of sanctions) to support the activities of the banned NGOs for democracy promotion activities, also through TV-Radio broadcastings that would allow a free access to information to the Uzbek people.

Attached is the text of the Parliamentary Question:

Bruxelles, February 7, 2006

Parliamentary Question to the European Council:

SUBJECT: On the violations of freedom of Association and the repression of Non Governmental Organizations (ONG) in Uzbekistan.

Tabled by Marco Pannella, Radical Member of the ALDE Group.

Considering that:

On 11 January 2006, the civil court of Tashkent ordered the cessation of all the activites carried out in Uzbekistan by the non-governmental organization Freedom House by accepting the allegations filed by the Uzbek Ministry of Justice of breaching a “secret” act issued by the Uzbek government;

Over the last months, the government led by Karimov has severely restricted the liberties of civil society actors and the following NGOs have been shut down: Internews, Irex, Eurasia, Den/Day Ferghana), Young Lawyers Union (Namangan), Sadokat (Namangan), Sentr Doveryia (Ferghana), Ishonch Center (Ferghana), American Corner in Namangan, BBC, Open Society Institute, Tatyana Chabrova’s Group (Tashkent), Ezgulik, Molodezh i Objestvo, Women’s Resource Center (Tashkent), Association of Law Students (Tashkent) and that the regional ONG Khorezm Center fo Civil Foundation has been suspended;

In May 2005, following a trial where no details concerning the allegations had been released by the authorities, an Uzbek Court sentenced Saidjahon Zaynobiddinov – a witness of the disorders that took place– to seven years of jail for defamation and anti-government activities;

The conclusions adopted by the Council on 3 Octber 2005, include sanctions for Uzbekistan.

Could the Council say:

whether it does not consider the facts described above as acts of non-collaboration by the Uzbek authorities in the field of promotion of human rights and democracy, to such an extent to demand that the one-year sanctions against Uzbekistan continue for a longer period than that initially foreseen;

whether, especially in respect of the serious and persistent crackdown by Uzbek authorities, it deems necessary to suspend completely the TACIS programs - aside from those with a purely humanitarian character - and to allocate those resources for projects aimed at supporting the activities of the over-mentioned banned NGOs to promote democracy, also through the organization of TV programmes that could provide to the Belarusian people free access to information.