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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tashkent Dismisses Criticism

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Uzbekistan brushed off the United Nations' criticism of its human rights record following the bloody suppression of last year's revolt in Andijan.

The UN General Assembly in a January resolution had expressed "grave concern" over the arrest of dissidents, use of torture and the persecution of journalists after the May 2005 Andijan uprising.

In the first official response to the criticism, the Uzbek ambassador to the UN, Alisher Vokhidov, said Uzbekistan "does not see any grounds for such concerns."

"Uzbekistan decisively fights any human rights violations, including torture," Vokhidov said in a letter sent to the UN General Assembly on June 26 and made public Tuesday.

The UN resolution also criticized the "disproportionate" use of force by Uzbek government troops in quelling the Andijan revolt. Rights groups and witnesses said more than 700 mostly unarmed protesters died, while the authorities put the death toll at 187 and blamed the violence on Islamic militants.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov rejected calls for an international probe.

Vokhidov's letter also denied allegations that Uzbekistan had pressured hundreds of Uzbeks who fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan after the violence, trying to force them to return.

It also denied carrying out arbitrary arrests after the revolt, as well as allegations that trials of alleged participants in the uprising were unfair.

More than 150 people have been sentenced to long prison terms for alleged roles in the uprising at trials that rights groups called staged.

The increased government crackdown on dissents since the revolt involved the closure of dozens of foreign media outlets and aid groups as Karimov accused them of supporting opposition and waging an information war against Uzbekistan.

Karimov also evicted a U.S. military base that had been used for anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan.