July 16, 2017


The Next Chapter in Uzbekistan's Opening (Catherine Putz, July 06, 2017, The Diplomat)

A dozen years later, the BBC appears closer than ever to returning to Uzbekistan. BBC Uzbek, the BBC's Uzbek-language service, has opened advertisements for a multimedia journalist to be based in Tashkent. "The BBC is on the verge of restarting its operations in Uzbekistan after a pause," an announcement read.

"While partial readmission of the BBC marks tentative progress, Uzbekistan still has a long way to go and many other journalists continue to be denied permission to work there," EurasiaNet wrote, noting that one of its correspondents had been denied temporary accreditation earlier in 2017 "without any explicit explanation."

A related development -- the apparent willingness on Tashkent's part to accept a Human Rights Watch delegation -- also marks tentative progress. [...]delegation be allowed to visit. Komilov said the request would be granted. He did, however, also reportedly say that the delegation would need to "respect our customs and traditions" and pushed back against the idea of "universal values."

In a statement to Voice of America, Steve Swerdlow, a longtime researcher on Central Asia for HRW, said, "Human Rights Watch values the government's readiness to take steps to engage with our organization."

Following the death of Uzbekistan's first, and long-serving, President Islam Karimov last fall, new President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has made definitive efforts to reengage with the region and the world. As we've covered, this started with a good neighbor initiative and continued by courting international organizations, like the EBRD, which had been pushed away by Karimov. In May, Tashkent welcomed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. What I wrote in May remains true: "The opening continues. While many will remain cautious in their optimism, optimism is not something many regional observers would have used in the same sentence as Uzbekistan a year ago."

Posted by at July 16, 2017 12:40 PM


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