Human Rights Watch Describes Tashkent Media-Forum ‘Farce’

Uzbekistan, Tashkent, 11 June / corr. Trend T. Jukov/ A number of international human right organizations believe the international conference 'Freedom of Mass Media in Modern Democratic Society' ,held in Tashkent on 9 to 10 June, to be a 'big farce'. This statement was made by Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Crisis Group (ICG), Open Society Institute and Reporters sans frontiers (Reporters without frontiers) organizations, who were not allowed to take part in the forum.

The Tashkent conference was held in an atmosphere of secrecy almost without the participation of Uzbek journalists. The list of those who were allowed to take part in the conference included the representatives of state-owned TV channels, national new agency UzA and president daily Uzbekistan Today.

"The international conference Freedom of Mass Media in Modern Democratic Society was not aimed at holding true and serious discussions over the problems and situation in press of Uzbekistan. It is nothing more than 'propaganda show' of the Uzbek government held in a hurry to get rid of the media seminar of the European Union, where organizations who are strong critics of situation in Uzbekistan planned to take part," the statement of the international organizations said.

The conference held in Tashkent as a blind will never raise the issue of strict restrictions on the freedom of media in Uzbekistan, the statement said. None of its participants will ever talk about the imprisoned journalists and ban on cooperation with the international press without Foreign Ministry accreditation- imposed on 2006.

ICG, HRW, Reporters sans frontiers and Open Society Institute believe that the Uzbek authorities should immediately take the following measures: secure freedom of expression and speech in line with Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, to put an end to all kinds of censorship and persecution of journalists, to free imprisoned journalists, to allow the international press and Uzbek journalist, who have left the country, to come back and work in this country, as well as to guarantee their security.

The organizations, which signed this statement, also cited the list of imprisoned media representatives who should be freed. This list includes 7 well-known journalists who are in prison at present or in compulsory treatment in mental homes.

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