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Mr. Douglas Alexander: Her Majesty's Ambassador has made several visits to Andizhan since the events of 13 May. He has not made any further visits been there since 1 August. Other members of the Embassy staff have visited three times since then, and the Embassy has also had regular briefings from other visitors to the region.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of (a) the strength and activities of the Islamic Jihad Union in Uzbekistan and (b) the level of threat that organisation poses to UK security and interests. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) publicly claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that occurred in Tashkent and Bukhara in March/April 2004. They have also publicly claimed responsibility for mounting suicide attacks against the American and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent in July 2004. It is not our policy to provide intelligence available on groups that have been proscribed in the UK, but we assess that IJU poses a threat to Western interests in Uzbekistan.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether UK diplomats have observed the work of the Uzbek parliamentary commission investigating the events in Andijan on 13 May. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: We have not been part of the official diplomatic team observing the work of the Uzbek parliamentary committee, but we have monitored its activities. We and our EU partners have continued to call for an independent international investigation.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any meetings have been held under the EU Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Uzbek government representations since 13 May. 
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to inquire into the well-being of the Uzbek dissident Saidjahon Zainabitdinov since his detention on 21 May on charges of terrorism. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Following the events in Andizhan of 1213 May 2005, we have been extremely concerned by reports of the arrest and harassment of eyewitnesses, independent journalists and human rights activists. On 1 June, our Ambassador raised these concerns at a meeting between EU Ambassadors and Foreign Minister Ganiev.
Our Embassy delivered notes to the Uzbek authorities in May, June and August, registering our concern at the arrest of Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, the head of the 'Appeal' human rights NGO. Our Ambassador, David Moran, has also made regular representations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at ministerial and official level. EU presidency statements on 20 September and 19 and 26 October reiterated our concerns at the treatment of human rights activists and others since the Andizhan events. We continue to urge the Uzbek Government to respect their wider international commitments to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to secure international observers at the trial of the Andijan demonstrators understood to be taking place in Uzbekistan. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: At the beginning of the trial on 20 September, the UK, as presidency of the EU, issued a statement calling on the Uzbek government to conduct the trials in line with international norms and standards and to allow members of the international community to observe them. UK officials were present at the trials from the start and we agreed with EU colleagues to ensure an EU presence every day at the trial. This is on-going.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have expressed concern to the Uzbek authorities about the extent of access that their monitors at the trial have been allowed. Our Ambassador and his deputy raised the question of full access for international observers and diplomats with First Deputy Foreign Ministers Nematov and Mustafayev in September and October.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to determine the (a) whereabouts and (b) well-being of the Uzbek refugees from the Andijan massacre (i) Dilshod Khajiev, (ii) Tavakal Khajiev, (iii) Hasan Shakirov and (iv) Mukhammad Kadirov. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Since the events of 1213 May in Andizhan, our Ambassador and his team in Tashkent have continued to co-operate closely with the OSCE and a range of human rights bodies including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee for the Red Cross. This has also been the case with the four refugees illegally returned from Kyrgyzstan on 9 June. We have also been in regular contact with the UNHCR in Geneva.
On 23 August, the Uzbek Procurator General's Office issued a statement stating that all four remained in custody and that they would all be charged with crimes directly related to their involvement in the May events in Andizhan, including the execution of hostages and civilians. None of the four are among the fifteen currently standing trial in Tashkent for their alleged involvement in events in Andizhan.
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The Uzbek Procurator General's Office has categorically denied rumours that one of the four, Hasan Shakirov, has died in custody as a result of being tortured. But as yet neither we nor, it appears, any international body has been granted access to them.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2005, Official Report, columns 17778W, on Uzbekistan, what further steps he has taken to secure the Uzbek government's compliance with the call by the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13 June to investigate the unrest in Uzbekistan. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Following the measures referred to in the answer I gave the hon. Member on 20 July 2005, Official Report, columns 17771778W, the UK, as presidency of the European Union, played a lead role in preparations for the visit to Uzbekistan on 89 September of Mr. Jan Kubis, the EU's newly appointed Special Representative for Central Asia. In the light of Uzbekistan's continued failure to respond to requests for an independent inquiry, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary chaired a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers at the EUs General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 3 October, which agreed to suspend indefinitely all scheduled technical meetings under the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement, to adopt an arms embargo to cover exports to Uzbekistan of arms, military equipment and other equipment that might be used for internal repression, and to restrict admission to the European Union of those individuals directly responsible for the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in Andizhan. In addition, the European Commission's funding programme for Uzbekistan worth €9.2 million in 200506, has been re-oriented in order to support increased focus on poverty reduction, and the promotion of democracy, human rights and civil society.
These measures will be implemented for an initial period of one year. But they will be kept under review in the light of any subsequent international inquiry, the co-operation or otherwise of the Uzbeks with such an enquiry and the conduct of the on-going trials.
In accordance with the 3 October statement by the GAERC, the UK, along with the rest of the EU and other like-minded partners, is continuing to explore other relevant mechanisms within the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the UN that may help secure independent inquiry by external experts. The UK and the rest of the EU continues to urge the Uzbek authorities to allow and co-operate with such an inquiry.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with the United Nations on a referendum on the future of Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. 
The UK supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his new Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara dispute. UK officials in New York are in daily contact with the UN and representatives of the parties to the dispute.
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On 28 October the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 1634 which renewed the mandate for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The Government supported this. There are, however, no plans for a UN referendum to be held in the near future.
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