On Andijan Anniversary, Human Rights Watch Calls Out Germany
May 13 is the sixth anniversary of the massacre in Andijan, Uzbekistan, in which Uzbekistan's security forces opened fire on protesters, killing still-unknown hundreds. That put a pall on relations with the U.S. and Europe for a while, but security cooperation has geared back up. Human Rights Watch is using the occasion of the anniversary to call on the U.S. and European Union countries to "re-examine their relationships with the Uzbek government in light of its atrocious rights record."
HRW calls particular attention to Germany, and its cooperation with Uzbekistan over the use of an airbase at Termez to support German troops in Afghanistan. EurasiaNet's Deirdre Tynan has reported on Germany's payments to the government of Uzbekistan for use the base, which Germany has apparently tried to keep quiet so as to not invite too much public inquiry. When Andijan resulted in EU sanctions against Uzbekistan, Germany "made no secret about its aversion to the EU sanctions from the outset and actively undermined them," HRW says.
"In the wake of Andijan, the German government undermined the sanctions, arguing they weren't effective," Denber said. "If Germany wasn't going to take a principled stand, it should at least have been more honest about why."
According to another document made public by Germany's Green Party, in 2010 Germany paid €15.9 million (US$22.7 milion) to the Uzbek Finance Ministry, in addition to just over 10 million for "rent of objects" and operation fees. Berlin will continue to pay the additional compensation in coming years that it uses the base, the document says.
"It is truly shocking that Germany is paying millions to the Uzbek government with no strings attached," Denber said. "Germany should explain whether it has considered alternatives to Termez, and if so why it has ruled them out in favor of supporting this brutal government."
Alas, I'm unable to monitor the German press to see if the government has in fact given such an explanation. Germany is to start pulling out its troops from Afghanistan starting this year, which could change the thinking in Berlin. Any German Bug Pit readers out there who could point me in worthwhile directions? Email me.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.