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Reliable sources have informed us that the Council of the European Union has invited Uzbek President Islam Karimov on an official visit to Brussels.
The visit is to take place on January 31, 2011. Mr Karimov’s birthday is on January 30, and the invitation will make a pleasant present for one of the world’s most vicious dictators.
Islam Karimov is the first contemporary dictator to receive an official invitation to Brussels and shake hands with the heads of the EU.
We would like to remind the organizers of this meeting and the global community of President Islam Karimov’s record:
1)  13 May 2005 government troops, following Karimov’s orders, used indiscriminate and disproportional violence to put down a demonstration. As a result one hundred civilians were killed, including children. Hundreds of innocent people are in prison for the sole reason that they dared to go to Boburov Square that day to protest against violations of their civil rights.
2)  38 human rights activists, writers and journalists are in prison in Uzbekistan for attempting to practice their fundamental right to freedom of speech.
3)  Thousands of Muslims are in prison because their religious views do not coincide with the state’s version of Islam.
4)  People held in prison as suspects or convicts are tortured to give false statements. The Uzbek authorities make every effort to conceal the number of victims, but according to human rights activists 39 people died in 2010 alone through torture in prisons. The authorities hide the real number.
5)  Child labour continues to be exploited in the cotton industry. Children’s rights to education and health are abused.
6)   Uzbekistan has no freedom of speech, thought or peaceful assembly.
7)   Islam Karimov has ruled the country continuously for 21 years, ignoring the constitutional principle for democratically changing a country’s ruler.
8)   Presidential and parliamentary elections are not democratic. Opposition parties are refused registration and are not allowed to campaign freely. Parliament only includes parties created and controlled by the authorities.
This list of abuses committed by President Karimov is by no means full, but it does beg the question:
  • Does the visit undermine the international reputation of the EU?
  • Is there an understanding in the European Parliament, among Belgian citizens and in other EU countries that the official visit of a man guilty of the suffering of thousands of Uzbeks opens the way for other dictator’s too?
  • Who next from the 'World Dictator's Club' will have the honour of an official invitation to the capital of democratic Europe?