According to “The
Times” (Feb 8.2013), the British Ministry of Defence plans
to sell military hardware leftover from Afghanistan that is not worth
repatriating to Britain to Uzbekistan. We were surprised that the British
government considered only narrow financial and geostrategic considerations in
this regard, and not legitimate human rights concerns.
It has also come to light
that Uzbekistan is seeking to buy combat equipment, including armoured vehicles
and military helicopters from the U.S., UK and Germany.
In what military campaign
will Uzbekistan use these weapons systems?
History shows that the
Karimov regime had no compunction against using military vehicles and
helicopters against its own people. According to various independent sources,
between 500 and 700 people, including women and children, were killed when
government forces shot into crowds of peaceful protesters in Andijan in May
2005. The government troops deployed Soviet-made
armoured personnel carriers (BTR), while a reconnaissance helicopter was used to
define targets before the massacre.
Should new mass protests break out in Uzbekistan,
which is becoming more likely every day due to the Uzbek population’s growing
discontent with Islam Karmov’s corrupt and repressive regime, there is no doubt
that military equipment will again be used against civilians. Whatever promises
it makes to Western governments, this time the ruling regime will most
certainly employ any military equipment sold to Uzbekistan by Britain, the U.S.
or Germany should it see fit to do so. Should this happen, the responsibility for a
new massacre will have to be shared by the governments of the countries that
supplied these weapons. If at new tragedy happens, the personalities who
initiated this trade deal, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence
Minister Philip Hammond, should share responsibility for the outcomes of their
It is still not too late
to stop these deals. We, therefore, call upon the members of the British
Parliament to disapprove of any sale of weapons systems to Uzbekistan and to
appoint a commission that would consider the range of the proposed arms and
military equipment for sale to determine whether it can be used against
We urge the U.S.
government and the government of Germany to take similar measures to prevent
the sale of lethal or dual-use military equipment to Uzbekistan.
The governments of
these three countries have to prioritise human rights concerns when considering
the sale of weapons to Uzbekistan’s authoritarian regime, which is known for
its dire human rights record and total disregard for the lives of ordinary