The Open Society Foundations host an informal breakfast briefing and discussion with Human Rights Watch researchers Mihra Rittmann and Steve Swerdlow on the human rights situation in Central Asia, focusing on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Over the past year, the Kazakhstani authorities have continued to crack down on free speech and dissent, including the reappearance of forced psychiatric observation or detention. Uzbekistan’s human rights record remains abysmal. Dozens of civil society activists remain behind bars for no reason other than their human rights work, along with thousands of peaceful religious believers.
Many of these individuals have been subjected to torture, which the United Nations Committee Against Torture found in November to be “systematic.” The Uzbek government forcibly mobilized nearly two million adults and children during the autumn cotton harvest to pick cotton in abusive conditions for little to no pay.
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