Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan
October 20, 2015
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing on the eve of your trip to Central Asia, to share a briefing memorandum highlighting Human Rights Watch’s principal areas of concern in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. We hope our information will help to identify key issues to raise with government officials in each country, and about which to mark concern at the highest level, both in private exchanges and in public outreach.
The human rights landscape remains grim throughout the region. The governments of Central Asia all have distinctly poor human rights records and to varying degrees resist meaningful reform, as detailed below. They have introduced new legislation restricting fundamental freedoms and put forward draft laws that would seriously limit the activities of nongovernmental organizations. Authorities are holding people in prison on politically motivated charges and have imposed heavy restrictions on freedom of the media, assembly, association, and religion. Across the region, impunity for torture remains the norm. Homosexual conduct is still criminalized in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and discrimination and violence against LGBT people and activists are serious problems throughout the region.
Your upcoming visit presents a crucial opportunity for Japan to engage with the Central Asian leaders on the necessity to implement human rights reforms and the specific steps needed to remedy abuses. We sincerely hope you will make full use of this opportunity, in line with your welcome January 2013 pledge that the Japanese government will pursue an international “diplomacy based on the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law.”
Thank you for your attention to these concerns and best wishes for a productive trip.
Hugh Williamson Kanae Doi
Executive Director Japan Director
Europe and Central Asia Division