Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 29th June 2005.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

(1) what his policy is on the OSCE's efforts to promote a public inquiry into the events of 13 May in Andijan in Uzbekistan;

(2) how many people he estimates have died in the apparent uprising in Andijan in Uzbekistan on 13 May;

(3) what efforts he has made to investigate the events of 13 May in Andijan in Uzbekistan; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Europe)

We were extremely disturbed by reports of Uzbek troops firing on demonstrators in Andizhan (Andijan). When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary first heard these reports, he urged the Uzbek Government to allow an independent, international investigation. We are pleased that the US, the UN, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO have all done the same. The UK was at the forefront in condemning the indiscriminate and disproportionate use offeree by the Uzbek Government.

Islam Karimov, Uzbek President, responded to our repeated calls for an inquiry by creating a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the unrest. We, and our European Union (EU) partners, have made clear that we consider this an insufficient response. On 13 June, the General Affairs External Relations Council (GAERC) called on the Uzbek Government to reconsider its position, giving a deadline of 30 June. Failure to do so will lead to punitive EU measures, including partial suspension of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA).

It is not possible to say how many people died during the unrest in Andizhan, but the recent OCSE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights' (ODIHR) report, which was published on 20 June, estimated that between 300 and 500 were killed.

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