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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06TASHKENT938 2006-05-15 13:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tashkent
Cable title:  

LANDMINE ACTIVIST UNDER PRESSURE

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL UZ 
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VZCZCXRO4777
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHNT #0938/01 1351313
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P 151313Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5740
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ALMATY PRIORITY 7897
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 1971
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 2500
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY 2402
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 1460
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 6652
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TASHKENT 000938 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN, RPM, AND DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL UZ
SUBJECT: LANDMINE ACTIVIST UNDER PRESSURE

REF: A. A) TASHKENT 352

B. B) 05 TASHKENT 3319

Classified By: AMB. JON R. PURNELL, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D)



1. (C) Summary: Alisher Taksanov (please protect), the local
representative of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
(ICBL), told us that he was denied an exit visa at the end of
March, preventing him from attending an international
landmine conference. Taksanov, who is also an independent
journalist and former MFA official, stated that he had not
written an article critical of the government posted on the
Internet and attributed to him. Landmines are still a taboo
subject in the local mass media. An Uzbek colonel
responsible for laying mines on the Kyrgyz and Tajik borders
told Taksanov that over 300,000 landmines were laid in 1999,
and that a further 200,000 mines are in storage. End summary.



2. (C) Alisher Taksanov (please protect), an independent
journalist who also represents the International Campaign to
Ban Landmines (ICBL), told Poloff that his corruption
reporting and landmine activism have angered the GOU. In
March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) refused to
renew his exit visa, preventing him from attending a landmine
conference in Cambodia. An MVD officer told Taksanov that
the National Security Service (NSS) had instructed the MVD to
deny his exit visa. The MVD has ignored Taksanov's letters
appealing the decision. Taksanov told the Swiss DCM that not
long after, he received an anonymous phone call informing him
that he will never leave Uzbekistan again, and will soon be
buried here.



3. (C) Taksanov told Poloff that in mid-April, Tashkent
Hokimiyat (City Administration) and MVD officials
interrogated him, focusing on his income sources. Around the
same time, Centrasia.ru published a provocative piece on the
Internet attributed to Taksanov. Taksanov denies writing the
article, and believes that the NSS placed it under his byline
to entrap him. (Note: Taksanov is not the first to claim
that the NSS is responsible for falsely attributed articles
critical of the government - ref A. End note.)



4. (C) Uzbekistan mined its borders with Kyrgyzstan and
Tajikistan in 1999 to prevent border infiltrations from the
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) following a series of
bombings in Tashkent. (Note: The Tajik DCM told the DCM that
the mines along the Uzbek-Tajik border were laid in
2000-2001. - ref B. End note.) Uzbekistan is not a
signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use,
Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel
Mines. A Colonel responsible for laying mines on the Kyrgyz
and Tajik borders told Taksanov that 300,000 were laid on
those borders, and that a further 200,000 remain in storage.
(Note: The former Soviet border with Afghanistan was mined 25
years ago. End note.) Taksanov added that during a tense
period between Karimov and Turkmen President Niyazov three
years ago, the GOU considered mining the border with
Turkmenistan, but decided against it.



5. (C) Taksanov has written a myriad of letters to the
Ministries of Defense, Health, Emergency Situations,
Prosecutor's Office, and other agencies requesting
information on landmine deaths. All correspondence has gone
answered. A Ministry of Health official told Taksanov that
such statistics are a state secret. Taksanov told us that
information is more accessible through Kyrgyz and Tajik
sources. According to Taksanov, since 1999 at least 39
people have been killed by Uzbek landmines (25 Kyrgyz, 7
Uzbeks and 7 Tajiks) and a large number injured (75 Tajiks,
15 Kyrgyz, and an unknown number of Uzbeks). He noted that
an Uzbek parachutist was killed in a landmine incident two
years ago after dropping in an area near the Tajik border.



6. (C) The Deputy Commander of Border Services, Rashid
Khabiev (please protect), told Taksanov that all mines were
removed from the Sokh and Shahimardon enclaves in September


2005. (Note: These Uzbek enclaves are located within Kyrgyz
territory. End note.) According to an ITAR-TASS media
report, Khabiev told a Dushanbe conference of CIS border
troop commanders in October 2005 that the GOU had begun to
clear mines from other border areas. The same report stated
that in December 2005, Uzbekistan's Ambassador to Tajikistan
formally notified the GOT that mine-clearing operations had

TASHKENT 00000938 002 OF 002


begun. (Note: However, during the same month the Tajik DCM
in Tashkent told the DCM that the Tajik government had no
confirmation of the GOU's de-mining claims - reftel. End
note.) According to a Kyrgyz Kabar news agency report, in
late April of this year, Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary
Niyazov stated that the Uzbek National Security Council
Secretary had informed him that mine clearance had begun in

SIPDIS
some sections of the Kyrgyz and Tajik borders.



7. (C) Khabiev also told Taksanov that Uzbek minefield maps
no longer reflect accurate landmine locations, noting that
many have shifted due to rain and land movements. Khabiev
added that mines along the borders are still necessary to
prevent terrorist and Wahhabi infiltrations, as well as
weapons and narcotics trafficking. Taksanov told us that
landmines are considered a taboo subject in the local mass
media. Taksanov is unaware of any other anti-landmine
activists in the country.



8. (C) Bio note: Taskanov is an independent journalist, who
writes for Arena, Ozod Ovoz ("Free Voice") and Centrasia.ru.
He has attended ICBL conferences in Croatia, Kenya, Bosnia,
and Kyrgyzstan. He represented a Swedish social science
journal until December 2001, and served as Deputy Chief
Editor of "Business Vestnik Vostoka" newspaper from 1999
until 2001. He has also served as Second Secretary for
Economic Affairs at the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow (1997-1998),
and First Secretary of the MFA's CIS department (1994-1998).



9. (C) Comment: Landmines have claimed many lives in the
Ferghana Valley, where citizens often cross borders to trade
and perform daily errands, and along the border with
Tajikistan. The GOU would have an interest in de-mining
areas where Uzbeks are most likely to become victims.
Taksanov's battle against landmines is a lonely struggle,
pitting him against a state apparatus valuing secrecy. The
GOU does not take kindly to activists seeking to challenge
the state. Taksanov will likely face further harassment in
the months ahead.
PURNELL