TASHKENT/MAY 10 (The Bulletin) — People in Uzbekistan can read the BBC website for the first time in more than a decade after the authorities unblocked it.
The BBC was listed among 12 news and human rights websites that the Uzbek authorities unblocked in its biggest gesture to date that it is serious about improving media freedom. The US-government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, though, and its Uzbek language news service, Ozodlik, remain blocked.
In a Facebook post, the head of the Uzbek government’s communications agency, Komil Allamjonov, blamed “technical problems” for the blockages.
“The Head of State constantly emphasises the need to ensure freedom of speech and information in the republic,” he said.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirzioyev has earned plaudits for lifting restrictions on reporting in Uzbekistan since he took over from the reclusive and suspicious Islam Karimov in 2016.
arimov banned critical news coverage and human rights groups after his security forces were accused of killing 200 people in Andijan, east Uzbekistan, in 2005.
Foreign journalists have now been given official accreditation and local news websites have been working with relative freedom. There have been complaints, though, that accreditation for local journalists, including for the BBC, has been slow.
The Uzbek authorities unblocked Voice of America, Amerika ovozi, BBC Uzbek, Deutsche Welle, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Eurasianet, AsiaTerra, Fergana News, Centre1 and Uzmetronom.
— This story was first published in issue 410 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin