Uzbekistan Continues Hostility towards US
The Uzbekistan government is working to portray itself as a victim in its campaign to convince foreigners that it was terrorists and not the government itself that were the perpetrators of the Andijan Massacre in May:
The Uzbek government is engaged in a far-reaching effort to convince domestic and international opinion that the testimony of Bukharbayeva and Bensmann — along with all the other eyewitness accounts of the Andijan massacre — are either a big lie or a wild dream. In the months since Andijan, Uzbek authorities have quashed all potential sources of independent information inside the country, and conducted a media campaign designed to portray the Uzbek government not as the perpetrator of an atrocity, but as the victim of a global Islamic radical conspiracy.
An Uzbek court has ordered the closure of a U.S.-based media watchdog after what it said was a year of harassment, the Arcata, Calif.-based organization said.
The order Friday followed last month’s conviction of two Internews Network employees for illegally publishing information and producing TV programs without licenses.
The Tashkent city court said Internews Network was guilty of a number of violations of Uzbek law, the organization said in a statement posted on its Web site. The organization – which aims to improve access to information by fostering independent media – has denied the accusations.
“The closure of Internews Network sets a precedent for the Uzbek government to liquidate other foreign nongovernment organizations on the basis of biased court cases and trumped up or trivial charges,” said Catherine Eldridge, Internews’ country director.
A worker for U.S.-based educational charity IREX, who did not want his name to be disclosed, told Reuters that Tashkent city court ordered the organization on Monday to suspend its activities for six months.
“The decision was motivated by IREX’s refusal to provide information about Uzbek citizens who studied abroad, being supported by IREX,” he said adding that other charges included the use of an unregistered logo.
Last Friday, an Uzbek court ordered U.S.-based Internews, which helps media in 50 countries, to close its office. Last year Uzbekistan closed the office of Open Society, a charity run by U.S. billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Nathan Hamm at the Registan is the expert on Central Asian affairs and has worked with media outlets including the BBC to report on developments in Central Asia. If you have not checked out The Registan lately, it is always good!