(2005) $10 / ISBN: 0-9753150-5-6 / 28 pp.
“A threat to the constitutional order” is what President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan took to calling his non-violent critics and political opponents early on in his fourteen year presidency – sending many of them to jail. After deadly bombings in Tashkent in 1999, the Karimov government capitalized on public fear of the threat of terrorism and religious extremism to undermine and discredit their critics. Those who objected to Karimov’s authoritarian practices and exposed the government’s violations of human rights were accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists.
The September 11 attacks on the United States of America and the U.S. government’s declaration of a “global war on terrorism” were an opportunity for the Karimov government to evade international condemnation of its widespread violations of human rights. The Karimov government formed a strategic partnership with the U.S. government and, ever more confident that its treatment of non-violent dissidents would be overlooked by its global allies, stepped up repression of independent civil society and human rights defenders.
The Karimov government’s suppression of human rights defenders is one of the most extreme case studies of the misuse of legitimate concerns over security to undermine respect for basic rights and freedoms and to persecute those who seek to promote human rights. This counterproductive policy has contributed to an escalation in political violence, instability and violations of human rights.