Germany is ending its controversial military cooperation with Uzbekistan over the Termez airbase. Germany used the base for 13 years to transfer troops and equipment to Afghanistan, but this logistics hub is no longer necessary, according to the German military. Termez does not play a role in Germany’s plans, announced earlier in December, to extend its operations in Afghanistan.
The last German soldiers and equipment are being withdrawn from Termez by the end of December. This will end a saga during which Germany allowed post-9/11 security concerns and Afghanistan to define its policy towards Uzbekistan, which has one of the world’s worst human rights records. In 2011, for instance, my colleagues and I presented German defense officials with new evidence of the use of electric shocks, asphyxiation and other forms of detainee torture, long a problem in Uzbekistan, only to be told – again – that these abuses were less important than securing access for German troops to Afghanistan via Termez.
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Hugh Williamson is director, Europe & Central Asia division, Human Rights Watch