ANDIJAN SHOW TRIAL VERDICT CONDEMNED BY WEST
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 218
The first criminal trial related to the May uprising in Andijan, Uzbekistan, ended in Tashkent on November 14. The Supreme Court of Uzbekistan sentenced the 15 defendants to prison terms ranging from 14 to 20 years. According to Judge Bakhtier Dzhamalov, the investigation proved that a peaceful demonstration in front of the Andijan district administration building was the result of provocations. He then announced that the court had found the accused guilty of violating a number of articles of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan, in particular, terrorism, attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, murder, and hostage-taking.
Two of the convicted men, Sabir Muidinov and Farkhad Hamidov, will serve 20-year jail terms in high-security prisons. The other 13 people will be sent to regular prison facilities. Three citizens of Kyrgyzstan, who were among the accused, were sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The United States condemned the trial of the alleged organizers of the disturbances in Andijan. State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli called the trial verdicts “based on a less-than-transparent process and less than credible evidence.” Washington will «continue to call for an investigation and continue to have doubts about the convictions, doubts about the evidence, doubts about the process, and concerns about the overall way this issue has been handled by the Uzbek government,” he added (state.gov, November 14).
United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights Louise Arbour also stated that “serious questions remain concerning the fairness” of the trial. She called on the government of Uzbekistan to ensure that the convicted men can invoke their right to appeal the verdict (Kommersant, November 15, 16).
According to Kommersant, Russia was actually the only country that unconditionally supported the way the Uzbek government dealt with the Andijan uprising. As the newspaper points out, the trial of the first group of suspects accused of organizing an uprising in Andijan was remarkable for several surprising coincidences.
During the first days of the hearings, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov flew to Tashkent to watch joint counter-terrorism maneuvers between the two countries (see EDM, September 27). Many observers concluded that the visit was a demonstration of Moscow’s support for the Uzbek authorities. The end of the trial, in turn, coincided with Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s well-publicized visit to Moscow. On November 14, the presidents of Russia and Uzbekistan signed a new bilateral partnership treaty between Russia and Uzbekistan (see EDM, November 16, 17). According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the treaty “takes our countries to a critically new quality and maximum degree of closeness of cooperation.” Islam Karimov also remained content with the results of the visit to Russia and stated that the treaty, “Demonstrates with whose interests our interests coincide and with whom we intend to build our future” (Kommersant, November 16).
The sudden worsening of relations between Uzbekistan and the West, and the corresponding reorientation of Tashkent towards Moscow and Beijing, were reflected in publications by the government-controlled Uzbek press. According to the website uzbekinfo.narod.ru, the Uzbek press launched a massive propaganda campaign against the West following the Andijan events. As the website points out in the article, “A Friend Is Known to be in Trouble,” and published in the newspaper of the Uzbek parliament, Novoe slovo, the United States was branded an “enemy of the people.” According to the author, China and Russia have proved to be the best friends of the Uzbek people. “The number of such articles is increasing with every day,” a journalist from Novoe slovo admitted, but who did not want to disclose his name to the website. According to the website, Uzbek journalists had criticized only American organizations prior to the bloody Andijan events: the Soros Fund, Internews-Uzbekistan, the International Republican Institution, etc. Now, according to Dzhahonghir Mamatov, a former member of the Uzbek parliament, a leader of the Democratic Fund of Uzbekistan, there is an unofficial order for all prominent Uzbek political scientists and politicians to start writing articles sharply critical of the foreign policy of the United States and other Western countries (uzbekinfo.narod.ru, November 15).
With the Andijan verdict, Tashkent has underlined its indifference to Western opinion.