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Weekly news wrap

This week in Central Asia, Uzbek authorities on Thursday lashed out at the international aid group Save the Children, accusing it of falsifying information about the Central Asian nation in a report on access to education, AP reported.

A report published on Tuesday by Save the Children included a map that listed Uzbekistan among conflict-affected or fragile states and said that nearly 500,000 children of primary school age in the country were "out of school".

In a statement posted on its website, the Uzbek justice ministry called the report "an obvious disinformation attempt" and said the information it provided about Uzbekistan was "rudely falsified".

Ostracised by the West after the brutal suppression of a revolt in May 2005 in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan, President Islam Karimov's government has unleashed a campaign against foreign aid groups and media, accusing them of supporting government opponents and Islamic extremists.

Dozens of foreign NGOs and media outlets have been expelled from Uzbekistan, while hundreds of local civil groups have been closed down for alleged legal violations and tax evasion.

Rights watchdogs criticised this week the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koichiro Matsuura, for presenting Karimov with a medal for “contributing to cooperation between nations and preserving cultural heritage” during his recent visit to the country.
"We think that this [UNESCO award to Karimov] is absolutely scandalous," Veronika Szente-Goldston, Human Rights Watch's (HRW) advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Thursday, rights groups expressed outrage following the death of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalist in custody in Turkmenistan. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) blamed Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's government for what they say appears to be an extra-judicial execution and called upon the international community to press Ashgabat to shed light on the journalist's death.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called upon Turkmen authorities to immediately provide information on Muradova's death as well. Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on Thursday that he was "quite shaken" and "very sad" at news of the journalist's death.

In Kyrgyzstan, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said on Monday that a government panel would investigate the circumstances of a Kyrgyz opposition leader's detention in Poland on drug smuggling charges, English Politics News reported.

Former parliamentary speaker Omurbek Tekebayev was detained last week at Warsaw airport after authorities found 600 grams of heroin hidden inside a wooden Russian matryoshka doll in his luggage.

Tekebayev insisted he had been framed. A Warsaw court cleared him of drug smuggling charges and released him from custody several days later. Tekebayev is an ardent critic of Bakiyev and stepped down from the parliamentary speaker's post in February after saying Bakiyev should "hang himself". He retained his seat in parliament and leads the main opposition group ‘For Reform' in the country.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on Thursday, starting a two-day official visit to the former Soviet republic and to attend the fifth Meeting of Prime Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Chinese Xinhua news agency reported.

On Friday, Wen was scheduled to join premiers of other SCO member nations - Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan - in the fifth prime minister's meeting of the regional group that analysts say was spearheaded by China and Russia to counter US influence in the region.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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