HCON 32 IH

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. CON. RES. 32

Expressing the sense of Congress with respect to human rights in Central Asia.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 11, 2003

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN (for herself and Mr. LANTOS) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations


CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of Congress with respect to human rights in Central Asia.

Whereas the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan provided the United States with important assistance in the war in Afghanistan, from military basing and overflight rights to the facilitation of humanitarian relief;

Whereas America's victory over the Taliban in turn provided important benefits to the Central Asian nations, removing a regime that threatened their security, and significantly weakening the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a terrorist organization that had previously staged armed raids from Afghanistan into the region;

Whereas the United States has consistently urged the nations of Central Asia to open their political systems and economies and to respect human rights, both before and since the attacks of September 11, 2001;

Whereas Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are members of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), both of which confer a range of human rights obligations on their members;

Whereas, according to the Department of State, the Government of Kazakhstan harasses and monitors independent media and human rights activists, restricts freedom of association and opposition political activity, has engaged in selective prosecution of opposition leaders, and allows security forces to commit extrajudicial executions, torture, and arbitrary detention with impunity;

Whereas, according to the Department of State, the Government of Kyrgyzstan engages in arbitrary arrest and detention, restricts the activities of political opposition figures, religious organizations deemed `extremist', human rights activists, and nongovernmental organizations, and discriminates against ethnic minorities, and recently conducted a flawed constitutional referendum that will further concentrate power in the presidency and weaken the role of civil society;

Whereas, according to the Department of State, the Government of Tajikistan remains authoritarian, curtailing freedoms of speech, assembly, and association, with security forces committing extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, disappearances, and torture;

Whereas, according to the Department of State, Turkmenistan is a Soviet-style one-party state centered around the glorification of its president, which engages in serious human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrest and detention, severe restrictions of personal privacy, repression of political opposition, and restrictions on freedom of speech and nongovernmental activity, and most recently has engaged in sweeping arrests and summary convictions, as well as torturing of suspects, in the aftermath of the attack on the President's motorcade and has refused to cooperate with the OSCE fact-finding mission;

Whereas, according to the Department of State, the Government of Uzbekistan continues to commit serious human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrest, detention and torture in custody, particularly of Muslims who practice their religion outside state controls, to severely restrict freedom of speech, the press, religion, independent political activity, and nongovernmental organizations, and detains over 7,000 people for political or religious reasons;

Whereas the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has expressed concern about religious persecution in the region, recommending that Turkmenistan be named a `Country of Particular Concern' under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, and that Uzbekistan be placed on a special `Watch List';

Whereas, by continuing to suppress human rights and to deny citizens peaceful, democratic means of expressing their convictions, the nations of Central Asia risk fueling popular support for violent and extremist movements, thus undermining the goals of the war on terrorism;

Whereas President Bush has made the defense of `human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance' strategic goals of United States foreign policy in the Islamic world, arguing that `a truly strong nation will permit legal avenues of dissent for all groups that pursue their aspirations without violence'; and

Whereas Congress has expressed its desire to see deeper reform in Central Asia in resolutions and other legislation, most recently conditioning assistance to Uzbekistan on its progress in meeting human rights and democracy commitments to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

END