Central Asian Leaders Have Failed to Uphold Human Rights: Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) hasn’t minced any words saying Central Asia’s leaders have failed to show their commitment to a future built on rule of law and human rights. The organization said economic growth and international investment will bolster only if human rights is at the top of their agenda.

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Though Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have taken initiatives to improve the situation, the same cannot be said for Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In the latter, human rights have been held hostage to ‘ever-more repressive policies’.

Executive Director HRW Kenneth Roth highlighted populists groups spreading hatred and intolerance. Roth says there seems to be no stopping to politicians around the globe who claimed to speak for ‘the people’ but built followings by demonizing unpopular minorities, attacking human rights principles and fueling distrust of democratic institutions.

He drew attention to Russia and China saying “while focused on quelling any possibility of domestic mass protest against slowing economies and widespread official corruption, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have aggressively asserted an anti-rights agenda in multinational forums and forged stronger alliances with repressive governments. Their avoidance of public oversight has attracted the admiration of Western populists and autocrats around the world.” Roth said Putin’s efforts to repress opposition to his lengthening rule met little resistance from foreign governments more focused on his conduct in Ukraine and Syria than within Russia.

“Xi Jinping also got away with little resistance to his imposition of the most intense crackdown since the  brutal smothering of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement because other nations were afraid to jeopardize lucrative Chinese contracts by standing up for the rights of the Chinese people.”

Hugh Williamson, the director of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia region, said human rights improvements need to go hand-in-hand with economic growth and regional cooperation. “Central Asia’s leadership should start by allowing critical voices to be heard and ending the worst abuses such as politically motivated imprisonment and torture,”

Williamson said Tajikistan’s human rights record has worsened with authorities deepening the crackdown on free expression and association, peaceful political opposition activity, the independent legal profession and the independent exercise of religious faith. He stated Turkmenistan remains isolated as the world’s oppressively governed countries.

The Human Rights Watch is adamant for Central Asia to reform with human rights as its the heart of every growth and investment.

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