Uzbek Human Rights Groups Protest Freedom House

by Laurence on 3/29/2005 · 1 comment

Here’s a strange story, considering Freedom House helped make the Kyrgyz Revolution (or maybe not so strange): Uzbek human rights activists organized a picket in front of the Freedom House mission in Tashkent – Ferghana.Ru

Activists of four Uzbek human rights organizations organized a picket in front of the Freedom House mission in Tashkent on March 28. Twenty or so human rights activists demanded resignation of FH-Uzbekistan Executive Director M. Sever condemning her as “an accomplice of Islam Karimov’s dictatorial regime who discredits the whole human rights movement.”

One of the hand-written placards the picketers carried even branded Server as a “provocateur”. The statement signed by the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists (Group), Uzbek Society of Human Rights and Freedoms Promotion (Society), and Organization of Promotion of Rights and Freedoms of Journalists (Organization) was handed over to Emissary Branco with the demand to forward it to FH upper echelons in Washington.

Right now, IMHO, when it comes to Uzbekistan, Freedom House has a lot more credibility than Human Rights Watch (linked to the Electronic Intifada), for example. Anyway, the protesters have charged Freedom House as an “accomplice” of Uzbekistan’s repressive government:

Activists of the Group, Society, and Institute do not blame, however, Sever for subtlety. They blame her for being an accomplice to “the dictatorial and repressive regime”, collaboration with secret services, for putting the human rights community under pressure to keep under the lid the episodes of human rights abuses, harassment, and torture, fake expertise, non-transparent distribution and embezzlement of funds set aside for grants to human rights organizations.

Leaders of the human rights community and opposition regularly exchange accusations of this sort, proclaiming “fundamental splits” every now and then and purges on the eve of “decisive consolidation of all bona fide democratic forces.” This time, however, they blame an executive of an international organization that seemed to have adapted to Uzbek specifics in the last twelve months – differently from its behavior in other countries and regions.

When I saw Freedom House head Mjusa Sever speak in Washington, DC, on a panel with RFE/RL correspondent Daniel Kimmage, she appeared impressive, knowledgeable, intelligent and effective–and totally committed to democratic change. She seemed smarter, better informed, and more subtle than anyone else on the panel, including Kimmage and the Central Asian representatives from the National Endowment for Democracy. In fact, she was the only person I’ve seen who gave me hope that there could be a peaceful transition to democracy in Uzbekistan. I was so impressed by her presentation that I wrote her fan mail, and suggested my former students from UWED go to work for her.

Now, in what the Russians call “Ironia Sudbi,” and as a sign of what the Uzbeks called “nasha sistema,” it seems Mjusa Sever has been targeted as an enemy of the people…


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{ 1 comment }

Insider April 2, 2005 at 3:33 pm

I have never met with Ms. Sever, and never listened to her speak, however, from my observations and my analysis of what has been happening in the past year, I must say, that she made a BIG mistake.
She should have never cooperated with the Uzbek government. If the motto of the Freedom House, is to promote democracy and freedom and human rights around the world, they should stick to it. Ms. Sever’s ass-kissing of President Karimov, not only destroyed her reputation, not only among Uzbeks, but I must say others as well, but it also seriously damaged the reputation of Freedom House. She had a long but a firm way of ruining the organization’s reputations. First, by alienating the non-registered opposition parties, second, working with Agrarian Party and its leader Marat Zahidov, who is a well-known provocateur and who also works with the Uzbek government. Third, it was denying that the two torture cases, where prisoners were tortured, were actually tortured, when evidence and expertise clearly showed that the prisoners died from torture (how would two healthy, young males would die in prison?), and finally, her visit to Oksaray to meet President Karimov was finally the last drop.
She has asked for it, and lets make a distinction here , this time its actually the PEOPLE who think that she is the enemy, NOT the GOVERNMENT, as it was back in the Soviet days.

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