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 The EU is proud that protecting human rights is central to its efforts to make the world a better place, and has repeatedly defined this goal as integral to its foreign policy. That’s the theory. The reality often looks different – in Central Asia…
Kazakhstan police officers detain a protester during an opposition rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
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A new treaty to deepen the link between environmental protection and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean has the potential to reduce the conflicts that lead to the murders of so many environmental defenders in the region. 
 
 The…
Bernardo, a man in his 30s, was born in a quilombo (Afro-Brazilian) community of around 60, men, women, and children in Minas Gerais State, southeast Brazil. Bernardo told Human Rights Watch that he feels powerless against aerial spraying of pesticides. “
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Congress, or at least parts of it, is getting restless with the White House approach to human rights abuses in Central Asia. A recent hearing by the House of Representatives’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the region’s terrible human rights record…
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Many Turkmen citizens are forbidden from doing what the pop star did after her concert: leave the country. Celebrity and dictatorship have jumped into bed together once more, with American pop singer Jennifer Lopez singing "Happy Birthday" to Turkmenistan…
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This week, David Cameron has announced a visit to Kazakhstan; the first ever visit by a British leader to Central Asia. On the agenda will be security issues, the pull-out from Afghanistan, and oil and gas. Though the human rights climate in Kazakhstan…
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Ashton has set herself a benchmark for human rights in foreign policy. Her visit to central Asia will be a tough test.

At the height of summer, when foreign ministers adopted the European Union's new human-rights strategy, Catherine Ashton, the high representative for foreign affairs, was eloquent in promising to make these issues a core ingredient in the EU's foreign…
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The European Parliament faces a litmus test of its commitment to a principled EU policy on human rights. At issue is whether it will support upgraded relations with Turkmenistan, ruled by one of the most repressive governments in the world, without…
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BRUSSELS - I can’t help but wonder what Azimjon Askarov would say in reaction to the this week’s EU foreign ministers’ statement  “welcome[ing] the progress”  in implementing the European Union’s strategy for Central Asia? My guess is that Askarov, a 62-…
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Twenty years ago, in July 1991, I was poised to start a job researching human rights violations in the Soviet Union. A month later, the failed coup to unseat Communist Party leader Mikhail Gorbachev precipitated rapid political changes that would lead to…
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In response to article "In einer weit, weit entfernten Galaxie" by Daniel Broessler

Daniel Broessler’s story (18 November 2011) on Guido Westerwelle’s recent trip to Turkmenistan captures the country’s many bizarre, and worrying sides. Mr Broessler was one of the few people to hear of the foreign minister’s visit before it happened. The…
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The EU is re-thinking its north Africa policy; it should not stop there.

The European Union is crafting a "fresh approach" to north Africa in the wake of public uprisings against authoritarianism. That is good news, but it should not stop there. It is time for the EU to make a fresh start with the authoritarian belt of former…
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The EU’s overtures to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan could be making the human rights situations there worse, not better.

The EU's approach to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan stands out as a stark, illustrative example of why its much-touted "constructive engagement" and "quiet diplomacy" don't work with repressive governments and may even be damaging the cause of human rights…
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Ignoring human rights in favor of stability is backfiring not just in Kyrgyzstan, but all over Central Asia -- big time.

This week's uprising in Kyrgyzstan didn't appear out of nowhere. For the last several years, many of this Central Asian country's people have felt betrayed by a government that came to power promising democracy and reform, but in their eyes delivered…
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Published in the European Voice

The EU has just sent a clear message to Turkmenistan: human rights do not feature in our relationship. EU foreign ministers on Monday (27 July) waved through an interim trade agreement that gives preferential treatment and promises broader, upgraded…
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Observations on Turkmenistan

Too often, the nightmare in the central Asian state of Turkmenistan is treated as though it were comedy. The antics of the country's autocratic leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, are certainly bizarre: he changed the names of the months in honour of members of…
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For years, it has been pretty hard to find anyone with anything nice to say about Turkmenistan's leadership. A widespread consensus developed that the country's leader, president-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov - who styles himself 'Turkmenbashi', or father…