Uzbekistan. In January, the second round of the
parliamentary elections started before the New Year.
opposition parties were allowed to participate, and openly
opposition politicians were imprisoned or had fled the
country. In addition, in practice, Parliament had no power
over President Islam Karimov. The parties that were elected
were all loyal to Karimov. The OSCE had election observers
in place, but only a few. The election was considered
pointless from a democratic point of view, but Karimov
himself claimed that the election showed that the country
was approaching the creation of democracy.
Following a scandal involving 147 children infected with
HIV in hospital care, in March 21 people were sentenced to
prison for between five and eight years. The care workers
were accused of causing the infection through carelessness
and poor hygiene. The children were infected in 2007 and
2008, and several of them have since died.
This spring's bloody political and ethnic conflict in
southern Kyrgyzstan had repercussions in Uzbekistan. Tens of
thousands of ethnic Uzbeks in the Kyrgyz part of the Fergana
Valley fled the violence to Uzbekistan, but the regime there
soon closed the border. President Karimov claimed that
outside forces were behind the violence in Kyrgyzstan and
tried to pull Uzbekistan into turmoil. He called for an
independent international investigation.
In August, it was reported that the armed guerrilla
Uzbekistan's Islamic Movement (IMU) has been given a new
leader, Usman Adil, after the former guerrilla leader was
said to have been killed in one of the US military attacks
in Pakistan. The IMU is linked to al-Qaeda and was
considered to have grown in strength in recent years.
In November, a new political party, National interests,
was formed by lawyer Ruhiddin Komilov, who had his lawyer's
license revoked after defending human rights activists,
independent journalists and political prisoners. About 15
people who participated in the founding of the party were
arrested and interrogated by police.
An Uzbek imam who moved to Sweden was accused during the
year by state television in Uzbekistan for planning
terrorist acts against Uzbekistan. He was wanted by
Interpol. Shortly before, Uzbek refugees in Sweden had told
the media that they were exposed to espionage by the Uzbek
regime and that refugees returning to Uzbekistan had been
extorted and tortured.