Uzbekistan is one of the few countries that now use anti-personnel mines, and which in the near future does not intend to accede to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the use of these combat weapons for the destruction of non-selective action. By this, the republic shows its weakness in all aspects of domestic and foreign policy.
First, official Tashkent demonstrates with this, first of all, its political weakness, because mines conduct an aggressive doctrine regarding the solution of disputed border problems, while simultaneously demonstrating their military power. Although the power of the state has long been known to everyone - 50 thousand army and almost 850 thousand police corps could not cope with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, in whose ranks there were about 3 thousand people. And the mines were at least some complacent argument and hint to the neighbors, they say, we are the strongest, do not argue with us.
On the other hand, when the guns rattle, the politicians are silent. Tashkent showed weak diplomatic opportunities in resolving acute problems, and therefore resorted to such means, otherwise referred to as coercive pressure.
Secondly, a mine is, as I said above, an indiscriminate weapon, she doesn’t care who comes to her - military or civilian, a person or a beast. She takes no responsibility for causing injury or death. Here is a man who shoots a machine gun, he himself makes decisions and determines the goal of defeat. And here he is fully accountable to the law for pulling the trigger.
Tashkent does not want to bear any responsibility for the fact that border guards or policemen shot and killed a Tajik shepherd or a Kyrgyz trader, mistaking them for terrorists. This diverts the power of the government to solve "petty" problems. It is better to entrust this nameless mine. And therefore there is not a single military man among the victims and the dead, all civilians. This suggests a zero mine efficiency ... although no, one Uzbek paratrooper himself fell on a mine on the undivisible Tajik-Uzbek border and suffered. And he was assisted by the Tajik brothers, themselves constantly suffering from mines. Humanity knows no bounds.
Thirdly, the Uzbek government only declares that it is striving for regional cooperation in the matter of border security and the fight against crime. Instead of mines, it would be possible to establish contacts of border law enforcement forces, conduct joint patrols along the borders and exchange operational information. This would prevent drug trafficking and illicit arms trafficking, smuggling of goods, illegal border crossing and so on. However, Tashkent does not. These functions are transferred to mines.
Our research has shown that almost 98% of the population of the capital of Uzbekistan is not aware that there are minefields between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, where children and adults are undermined. Those who have heard about this are sure that the government is acting correctly, they say, there is nothing for extremists to rush here. And they are not embarrassed that civilians are dying. They claim that the victims themselves are to blame, because they saw prohibition signs. The fact of the matter is that there are no signs of danger at the borders. The Tajiks and Kyrgyz were forced to place their own shields about what could not be done further - life threatening. Uzbekistan is associated with death there. This became especially noticeable after the Andijan events.
In neighboring countries, events related to informing the local population about the danger of mines have been held for a long time. In Uzbekistan, this was intended to hold the Red Crescent Society in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the Ministry of Defense denied them, saying that demining was underway.
To say that mine clearance is underway is very difficult. Officially, no one provides such information. Neither the Ministry of Defense and Foreign Affairs, nor the Customs Committee or the Border Protection Committee responded to the official request of the Landmine Monitor researcher; they refused to contact them. Only the Interior Ministry reported that the criminals do not use mines, and the police themselves do not use them for the protection of particularly important objects. By telephone, an employee of the Ministry of Health stated that information about the victims, if they exist, is not given to anyone. That is, the Nobel Prize laureate of 1997, the International Company for the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines, which the United Nations listens to, is “to anyone”? Somewhat strange, isn't it? Therefore, it is not surprising that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan refused to accept the letter that was sent to the government of the republic, referring to the fact that it was written in English.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has industrial facilities for the production of mines. During the Great Patriotic War, the republic produced about 1 million anti-tank and anti-personnel mines and shells for the front. Mines were produced until the mid 50s. Judge for yourselves: if a country produces such sophisticated technical machines as airplanes, tractors and automobiles, then what is worth releasing unpretentious devices consisting of a “can” with explosives and a fuse? The Ministry of Economy has informed us that this information is the prerogative of the security forces. But after all, mines are, first of all, production facilities, technologies, specialists, material resources, government orders, financing, that is, what is included in the plans for economic development. The Ministry of Defense only provides an order, and for its execution are determined industrial enterprises with dual-use technologies.
Meanwhile, there is such a thing as a mobilization prescription (MOS). It determines who and how much should produce min. By the way, only 8 years ago the task of producing sea mines was dropped from MOP - they do not need Uzbekistan. And if necessary, Uzbekistan will begin to produce mines in the amount that the army will need.
And how much is needed - this is a military secret. But mines do not contribute to security in Uzbekistan itself. And I’m not even talking about the fact that they don’t stop terrorism - all participants in terrorist events arrived in Uzbekistan through legal channels, and did not cross mined areas. Mines do not stop the drug traffic. They destroy flora and fauna, as well as humans.
How many Uzbek citizens died - no one gives exact information. But we receive such information from friends and colleagues, and we fix the facts. Another thing is that an international campaign could help, for example, by opening a rehabilitation or prosthetic center, financing demining. But the Uzbek government does not want this.
By the way, in the summer of 2004, the government delegation of Uzbekistan at the OSCE Vienna Summit stated that it was ready to consider the issue of demining borders. It was only after some kind of confusion: the workshop on this issue was canceled in October, journalists are not provided with any information, it turns out that the issue of mines remains closed to the public (no newspaper has ever written about mines at the border all the time). The official press did not even get information about the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Dmitry Rupel, to provide army forces for mine clearance of Uzbek territory. I saw more of the commercial interests of this person than the truly humane ones, but even this aspect was missed by the ears of the Uzbek government, because the financing was assumed to be external, and not at the expense of the Uzbek taxpayer’s wallet.
I want to note that the order for mining was given personally by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Uzbekistan, and almost two hundred injured and dead are on his conscience. They say that even Prime Minister Sultanov appealed to Karimov with a request to cancel this decision, and got a scolding - don’t poke your questions! The government then passed a resolution granting its territory for the transit of ammunition, including mines, although the president had previously prohibited it by decree. Apparently, this transit is financially quite a profitable business, and you can give a damn about humanitarian aspects.
Uzbekistan does not intend to abandon mines, and therefore did not send its representatives to Kenya for the world summit in December 2004. And there the heads of state and government declared their desire to join the Ottawa Convention or said that they would do it in the near future. Earlier, Tashkent also did not participate in regional and international summits with a similar theme. It is unpleasant for a militarist country to listen to the fact that it exploits "hellish devices" against civilians.
According to independent experts, there are about 350-400 thousand mines on the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And the border with Afghanistan has been mined since Soviet times — how many mines there do not, in my opinion, even the military themselves. Uzbekistan has all types of mines produced in the Soviet Union. It is not known how many of them have developed a resource and pose a threat to the natural environment and security by the military. But it is known that some of the mines were handed over to the army of Rashid Dostum, so that he would protect the southern borders of Uzbekistan from the Taliban. It is difficult to judge the results of such military assistance.
However, I will say that mine clearance, with creak and gnashing, is underway. The Soh enclave has been cleared in Kyrgyzstan. Mountainous territory with Tajikistan causes difficulties, as due to natural changes mines have shifted, and now no one can tell where they are located. When the process is completed is unknown. Uzbekistan deeply hides its secrets.
Every year, the International Campaign publishes a “Report”, which provides data on the use of mines. Our report will also be included there. And it is very unfortunate that it is not based on official information of the government, but on the data that we were able to find out by meeting with experts, talking to local residents of border areas, and tracking information on the Internet. The circulation of the Report is about 1 million copies intended for government and public structures of all countries of the world. So consider how many people learn that Uzbekistan does not really want peace and stability in the region.
In turn, I ask all those who have information about the use of mines by Uzbekistan to write to the address [email protected]