(Berlin / Vienna) APA - The case of the Kazakh Rakhat Aliyev continues to raise new question marks. The most recent discussion of one of the lawyers who work in the field Aliyev, at Eurojust, the EU judicial authority for judicial cooperation, gave the following astonishing twist: Neither Austria nor Germany would apparently be responsible for the persecution of Aliyev.
Their argument: Criminal acts that have been committed abroad to a foreigner could not be persecuted.
So, when Rakhat Aliyev had been tortured or murdered Kazakh citizens in Kazakhstran would mean that it would not be an offense that triggers a prosecution in Austria.
This turn is surprising to lawyers of the victims because the prosecution had been initially set, because Aliyev was not present and was available in Austria, but not because the prosecution was not possible.
The next inconsistency refers to the three-day hearing of Aliyev in Malta by the responsible Austrian prosecutor from Vienna.
The interrogation could not be performed by the prosecutor herself, only Maltese interrogators were legally allowed, and she could only attend the hearing of the Kazakh by Maltese investigative bodies and listen to the statements of Aliyev. The content of this examination was not disclosed.
What raises questions is that Maltese officials in an official statement said that Aliyev had at the time of the hearing did not reside in Malta.
Furthermore, lawyers ask what might have caused the Maltese Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg, not to answer a letter, issued by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, in written form, but only orally. "He had good reason not to comment in writing," says one of the lawyers.
Another mystery so far unremained is a trip by Mr. Aliyev to Turkey last year. According to sources he had been shadowed by German intelligence officials in Istanbul. Turkish police, after informed by the Germans, caught Aliyev while he was entering a limousine and taken to a police car. He seems to have bribed the police and was released soon after the incident. On the same day he left Istanbul back to Malta via Northern Cyprus.
Berlin, February 6, 2012
We would like to cordially invite you to our next event:
“From the Uzbek Cotton Fields to the Termez Military Base”
A High Level Hearing on Uzbekistan and Germany
Thursday March 1, 2012 from 13:00 – 18:30
In Berlin, in the “Landesvertretung der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg”, Jägerstraße 1, 10117
In this public high-level hearing, experts from governmental, intergovernmental, business, and NGO backgrounds will discuss the relationship between Germany and Uzbekistan. From state-sponsored child labor during the cotton harvesting involving from 1.5 to 2 million Uzbek children each year, to the subversion of basic civil and political rights including the systematic use of torture, the Uzbekistan human rights record is so appalling that the country is considered one of today’s most repressive regimes left in the world. Experts will engage on how political and economical interests of Western Actors impact, positively or negatively, the advancement of human rights in Uzbekistan, with a particular emphasis on Germany’s role and military interests in the context of the NATO-led efforts in Afghanistan.
The hearing will be held in English and German, with simultaneous interpretation. See the outline and the eminent list of speakers below.
This event is co-sponsored by the German-Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, Anti-Slavery International, Human Rights Watch, Uzbekistan Press Freedom Group, terres des hommes, and Eurasian Transition Group.
Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you!
With warm regards,
Attorney-at-Law Wolfgang Kaleck
ECCHR General Secretary
1) 13:00 – 13:30: Introductory Remarks And Video Screening
Wolfgang Kaleck, ECCHR General Secretary
Umida Niyazova, Head of the German-Uzbek Forum for Human Rights
2) 13:30 – 15:15: Part I - Who Benefits >From Forced Child Labor in the Cotton Fields?
Experts will discuss the respective roles played by Germany, European companies, the European Union, or the International Labor Organization with regards to the state-sponsored child labor in the Uzbek cotton harvesting. The Uzbekistan government’s monopoly on the cotton production and exports – ranked number 3 in the world – keeps the repressive regime rich and alive. Who benefits from this? What policies and conducts can change this status quo?
Moderator: Miriam Saage-Maaß, ECCHR Business and Human Rights Program Manager
Angelika Graf, Member of the German Bundestag (SPD):
“The role of Germany in eradicating child labor in the Uzbek cotton fields: challenges posed by realpolitik.”
Renate Hornung-Draus, Member of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Vice President IOE, Managing Director of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA):
“ILO’s efforts to overcome Uzbekistan’s uncooperative stance.”
Representative of the German Ministry for Economics and Technology, Department for foreign trade and investment (Confirmed. Name to be announced).
C&A Representative (to be confirmed):
“Why retailers like C&A boycott Uzbek cotton and with what impact.”
3) 15:15 – 15:45: Coffee Break
4) 15:45 – 17:30: Part II: Germany: Between Strategic Interests and Human Rights Concerns In Uzbekistan
With a southern border with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan is considered an important strategic partner for the countries involved in the NATO-led efforts against the Taliban, in particular in the context of the Northern Distribution Network supply lines. For a decade now, Germany has leased from the Uzbek government the Termez military base hosting thousands of German troops. In the meantime, the human rights situation in Uzbekistan still dramatically fails to improve, including since the EU lifting of the sanctions imposed in the aftermath of the Andijan 2005 massacre. How is the pursuit of strategic interests made compatible with a human rights agenda? Experts will discuss how those and other political factors should be approached towards the long-term goal of achieving democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights in Uzbekistan.
Moderator: Wolfgang Kaleck, ECCHR General Secretary
Theo van Boven, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture:
“From the Andijan massacre to findings of “systematic and widespread” torture: how to understand the situation in Uzbekistan.”
Patricia Flor, German Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia for Eastern Europe
Sanjar Umarov, Former Uzbek political prisoner and Chairman of the Sunshine Coalition of Uzbekistan:
“The exercise of civil and political rights in Uzbekistan and the role of the international community.”
Scott Horton, Contributing Editor, Harper’s Magazine:
“Uzbekistan as a Values Dilemma for NATO”
5) 17:30 – 17:50: Concluding Remarks
Jan Egeland, Europe Director at Human Rights Watch, former United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, and former Norwegian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
6) 17:50 – 18:30: Cocktail Reception
Turkmenistan's possible participation in the construction of a pipeline linking Caspian Sea natural gas producers with European markets was to be a main topic of discussions between Westerwelle and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.More ...
In interviews with victims of Aliyev, former aides and persons around him, politicians and experts, it is the first attempt to draw a complete picture of the former doctor, who became later a leading figure within the Kazakh KNB, the financial police, Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Austria and the International Organizations residing in Vienna.
The film was shot in the first half of 2011, therefore the new allegations against Dr. Aliyev concering the murder of two bank managers in Almaty and investigations in Austria and Germany on money laundering were not included.
After the second extradition request was rejected by the Austrian Prosecutor General, a spokesperson of a Vienna court confirmed that the Austrian judiciary is now investigating the legal basis for a trial against Dr. Aliyev in Vienna.
A delegation trip of German MP's to Tashkent was scheduled for November this year, after a request from Berlin, issued May 3. The Committee members planned to have bilateral meetings with the Uzbek Parliament and Government, discussing mainly the human rights dialogue.
Today, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry rejected the request by saying, that both chambers of the Parliament and the Government will have a tight schedule on "the further democratic reformation of the country together with the President. The legislative and executive bodies of Uzbekistan are therefore too busy for any additional consultations."
Volker Beck, Parliamentary Spokesperson of the Greens for Human Rights said that after the visit of the Deputy Foreign Minister Norov to Germany earlier this year, it seems that Tashkent felt offended by the protests in Berlin against the Uzbek Government.
He added that "Uzbekistan is too scared to talk about human rights issues openly, that they even are not willing to let German Parliamentarians into the country. Now I have my doubts, if a human rights dialogue with Uzbekistan can be fruitful." Mr. Beck also underlined, that talks about human rights abuses in Uzbekistan once a year are not enough. Just before those annual consultations, President Karimov would release some political prisoners, while arresting other opponents. If this dialogue is used only as a front, the German Government should reconsider its position on Uzbekistan. "The power, the time and the money then could be used in a better way to support the Uzbek civil society", Volker Beck said.
While the Greens made a clear statement on the cancellation, the German Government rejected any public comment.
The European Union has allocated a grant of 3,7 million Euro to an organization controlled by the daughter of Uzbek dictator
The European Union has allocated 3.7 million Euro to a charitable organization controlled by Lola Karimova-Tillaeva, the daughter of the Uzbek dictator. Karimova-Tillaeva is also Uzbekistan’s representative to UNESCO.
On 19 May 2011, in his defense statement in the suit brought by Lola Karimova against the French online publication "Rue89," lawyer Antoine Germain mentioned a letter sent by the office of Europa House in Uzbekistan to the Republican Center for Social Adaptation of Children (hereinafter – Center), the director of which is the Lola Karimova-Tillaeva. The letter confirms that the European Union has allocated 3.7 million Euro to the Center, which will be transferred to its accounts in 2011. The letter from Europa House, dated 20 April 2011, was probably intended to attest to the respectability of Madame Karimova to the court in Paris.At the same court proceedings, the journalist Anaelle Verzaux served as a witness presenting the cost estimates for a charity event organized by Lola Karimova-Tillaeva in February 2010 at the Versailles Palace. According to these estimates, this organization, run by Lola Karimova, paid 230,000 Euro for the attendance of the well-known actress Monica Bellucci at the party. It was not reported whether the guests to the party gave even one Euro to the fund for Uzbek children. Expenses were incurred only by Lola Karimova-Tillaeva, but obviously not from her personal pocket.More ...
In order to enter into a more constructive and successful partnership between the EU and Turkmenistan, the three Members of the European Parliament from the EPP Group who participated in high-level political meetings in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat last week, called for a positive vote in the upcoming plenary vote on the ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan. The MEPs underlined that the PCA would form the basis for a deeper and more efficient partnership with the Central Asian country. The PCA would give the EU the proper facilities to effectively cooperate with the country and help it to overcome the shortcomings it is still facing.
On April 28/29, the three EPP MEPs Elisabeth Jeggle (Germany), Inese Vaidere (Latvia) and Piotr Borys (Poland) participated in the European Parliament’s joint visit to Turkmenistan by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Central Asia Delegation. The delegation met with the Turkmen Minister of Foreign Affairs and participated in the 2nd EU-Turkmenistan Interparliamentary meeting. Furthermore, the delegation met with representatives of the OSCE and UNICEF, as well as with European business representatives working in Turkmenistan.More ...
But the draft agreement has been criticized for risking legitimatizing a repressive regime.
The European Union and Turkmenistan signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) back in 1998, although its entry into force has long been postponed due to the uncertain political situation in the country and human rights concerns.More ...
This may seem a peculiar thing for the European Union to do. Karimov is infamous for the massacre of over 700 demonstrators at Andijan in 2005, for the boiling alive of dissident Muzaffar Avazov in 2002, for some 10,000 political prisoners held in ex-Soviet gulags, for banning all Western media organisations and reporters, for the imprisonment in lunatic asylums of dissident journalists including his own nephew, for the jailing of HIV campaigners for corrupting public morals...More ...
Petition and information on Karimov's upcoming visit to Brussels: Free Europe embraces the the Uzbek Dictator?
Statement by activists and friends of civil society in Uzbekistan
On January 24, President Islam Karimov will visit Brussels, where he plans to meet with the leadership of the European Union and NATO. Meanwhile, the Belgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that neither official talks with member of the Belgian Government nor an audience with King Albert II. We learned about this visit not from press releases of the EU and the governments of Belgium, but through private channels. Only a few days ago, the website of the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso posted the headline:
Meeting with the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov which, in turn, links to the biography of Islam Karimov posted by the Uzbek government’s website. The reader can get the following information about Karimov from this ‘biography’:
‘For his outstanding contribution to education in Uzbekistan, creation of a state based on democratic laws, guarantee of civil peace and national accord, and for courage, I. Karimov was awarded the title Hero of Uzbekistan and the awards Mustakillik (Independence) and Amir Temur.’
This is propaganda pure and simple, and President Barroso’s website provided a link to this propaganda.
After we made this public, the Public Affairs Unit of the European Commission deleted the above mentioned link from the Commissioner's web site.
In regard to this, we are concerned by the following three circumstances.
First, EU relations with the Karimov regime seem to be at odds with EU principles of openness. One gets the impression that the EU is borrowing elements from the dictator’s own principles for ruling – of opacity and secrecy.
Second, flirting with the dictator of Uzbekistan, the EU sets a dangerous precedent. If the EU has a visit with Karimov, who will they receive next to discuss ‘water-energy issues’ or the like? Alexander Lukashenko, Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, Than Shwe?
Finally, we are concerned that the attitude of EU leaders towards Karimov during the visit will be complimentary, and that the EU will miss the opportunity to impress upon the regime the need to improve its human rights record. More ...
As President of Eurasian Transition Group, a EU-based institution that focuses on the political and civil development in Central Asia, I am writing you on behalf of your upcoming meeting on January 24 with the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Islam Karimov.
Like many other EU organizations, ETG is deeply concerned by the official visit of a dictator to the European Commission and to you personally, a person who is responsible for many human rights violations as torture, the killing of innocent people in Andijan, repression of Uzbek citizens and their family members, state-ordered child labour.
The whole process of Karimov’s state visit to Belgium is violating the EU’s commitments to openness and transparency: Only through private channels the international community was informed in advance about the visit, while the European Commission tried to cover the event in silence.
Secondly, the official visit of President Karimov violates the „Central Asia Strategy“ of the European Union, ratified by all member governments, where the respect for human rights, transparency and openness are substantial for intensifying the bilateral relations between the EU bodies and the states of Central Asia.
ETG agrees with the fact, that rejecting any cooperation and dialogue with authoritarian regimes would not help the suffering citizens in those countries. But granting a dictator with an official visit to the European Commission might in fact open the door for further human rights violations in Uzbekistan and other repressive states and I am asking you whether or not you would be willing to give the leaders of Sudan, Belarus, Myanmar and Iran also a warm welcome in Brussels.
Talks between members of the European Commission with Uzbek authorities alone are not to be criticized by us. In fact, it is the procedure of preparing Karimov’s visit, that concerns us deeply. I am quite confident that our position would not have been so negative, if for example the Commission in preparation for new consultations with the Uzbek Government would have invited international human rights organizations, Uzbek activists living in exile (the ones in Uzbekistan are arrested or are not allowed to leave the country), Western experts on Uzbekistan for consultations with you and your office, having an open discussion about the current situation in the country and the possibilities for the EU in this respect. With such a transparent openness, the Commission’s position concerning Karimov’s visit would have been much more coherent with the basic principles of a EU foreign policy.
We also had to learn, that the European Commission does not seem to be able to provide the EU public with an objective and independent CV of President Karimov. The web presence of your office is linking directly to a propaganda CV by the Uzbek authorities, saying that President Karimov is responsible for the „creation of a state based on democratic law, guarantee of civil peace and national accord“.
I personally cannot believe that the European Commission supports such a statement. But if not, why is the Public Affairs Unit of your office unwilling to give a more accurate picture of the man, you are going to welcome next Monday?
Summarizing the already said, ETG and other organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about the Commission’s policy towards the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan.
Michael Laubsch, President Eurasian Transition Group
Западные НПО, занимающиеся Центральной Азией, и особенно правозащитники крайне негативно восприняли известие о готовящемся 24 января визите президента Узбекистана Ислама Каримова в Брюссель. Удивление по поводу готовности европейцев расстелить красную дорожку перед лидером государства, систематически критикуемого за грубые нарушения прав человека, выражают и эксперты. Руководитель неправительственной организации Eurasian Transition Group Михаэль Лаубш (Michael Laubsch) только что вернулся из Брюсселя. В интервью Deutsche Welle он рассказал о причинах, побудивших Евросоюз официально принять Ислама Каримова на высшем уровне.More ...
The visit, following an EU decision last year to lift sanctions on Uzbekistan, marks a new stage in the rehabilitation of Mr Karimov who was castigated by the west for ordering a brutal police crackdown on a protest in the city of Andizhan in 2005.More ...
On the eve of your first official visit to Brussels in years, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, you deserve high praise. You have played the long game expertly and outmanoeuvred European foreign-policy makers so deftly that you have become a model of how to shrug off international pariah status.More ...
Please find Michael’s speech below:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
At first, I would also like to thank the organizers of today‘s conference here in Bonn for discussing those important questions, dedicated to the relations between the European Union and Central Asia.
When reflecting about the topic of this event, one might think that energy security would be the relevant part the European Union and its member states is interested in, while democratic development is mainly relevant for the future of the Central Asian states, in this case Turkmenistan. But in fact, democratic development is not only important and essential for Turkmenistan itself, it has an impact to stability and security within the whole Eurasian region, with direct consequences for the EU, for the OSCE, for NATO and other institutions.
The relations between the European Union and Turkmenistan are mainly based on establishing an energy dialogue. It can be described as a pragmatic approach, because it differs from the basic principles of the EU Central Asia Strategy, defined under the German Presidency in 2006, whereby the promotion of democracy and the rule of law form the basis for more intense bilateral relations.
However, a number of steps taken by Brussels over the past years seem to indicate that in the case of Turkmenistan, the Union is placing bilateral relations ahead of its ratified commitment to values. More ...
The report, ‘All that Gas?’ represents an innovative collaboration between Global Witness and cutting-edge satirical cartoonist, David Rees, who has produced original artwork for the publication. His seven new cartoons feature EU bureaucrats discussing crude strategies to ‘get the gas’. Rees is best-known for his US cartoon series ‘Get Your War On’, published on the internet and in Rolling Stone magazine.
All That Gas? (11/2009) Hi-res PDF
All That Gas? (11/2009) Lo-res version
Comic Strips (in Turkmen)
Comic Strips (Na russkom)
David Rees' Comic Strips (In English, hi-res)
Gazovyi vopros (11/2009), Word, na russkom
Hemme zat gaz üçinmi? (11/2009) Word, Türkmen
Source: Global Witness
The European Union’s consideration to lift the arms embargo on Uzbekistan gives the signal to Uzbekistan’s government that the EU is prepared to accept Uzbekistan’s atrocious human rights record
In 2007 the EU published a Strategy for a New Partnership with Central Asia. In its initial stages the EU focused on developing new forums for dialogue with the Central Asian countries, and received some criticism for inadequate substantive actions. This Policy Brief argues that the current global economic crisis does not alter the priorities of the EU Strategy, but it does require the EU to stick to existing obligations and also provides an opportunity for fresh initiatives to better achieve the Strategy’s fundamental goals.
This EUCAM Policy Brief is part of a mini-series of three publications on the impact of the global slowdown on Central Asia and its relations with the European Union.
Download the Policy Brief
So it appears that Ukraine and Russia have finally come to terms on a Gas Transportation deal that will allow the former Soviet state to receive gas and send it on to Western Europe. This is just the latest in a long line of dramas involving the transport and ownership of energy reserves between the triangle of Russia, Central Asia, and the EU. For Russia must first acquire most of the gas it sells to Europe from its former Soviet states to its south, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.More ...
Turkmenistan’s own relative isolation has proven a benefit during these tough economic times, shielding Ashgabat from some of the worst effects of the worldwide credit crunch. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. At the same time, the crisis has infused European governments, especially Germany, with a sense of urgency to conclude new deals that help embattled exporters. The fact that Berdymukhamedov’s administration seems to be one of the few governments in the world today with money to spend is prompting European states to de-emphasize Ashgabat’s troubled record on civil society development.More ...