Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category
Mutabar Tadjibayeva: “They Can Never Break My Spirit”
About the Author: Ruth Bennett serves as the Public Affairs Advisor for the Office of International Women’s Issues. This entry is one in a series of profiles of the 2009 International Women of Courage Award recipients.
“They can break my body, but they can never break my spirit.”
Mutabar Tadjibayeva is one of the most vocal activists in Uzbekistan, a country in which human rights issues remain a serious concern. As Chair of her own NGO, the Fiery Hearts Club, Ms. Tadjibayeva has brought attention to human rights issues in the Ferghana Valley – one of the most sensitive regions of Central Asia – and helped people seek justice. She has monitored trials, published articles on child labor, reported on violations of women’s rights, and organized public campaigns. In August 2003, Ms. Tadjibayeva suffered serious head injuries and was hospitalized for more than a week after a demonstration she organized demanding the resignation of a corrupt local prosecutor was forcibly dispersed by police.
In October 2005, Ms. Tadjibayeva was arrested at her home as she was preparing to travel to Ireland for a human rights conference and charged with several counts of criminal activity based on her activism. Despite the threat of a long prison sentence, Ms. Tadjibayeva remained defiant and told the court, “I do not regret my activities and I will continue them regardless of the verdict.” In March 2006, she was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Ms. Tadjibayeva’s health suffered as a result of poor prison conditions, and she was subjected to forced psychiatric treatment and long periods of solitary confinement.
In June 2008, Ms. Tadjibayeva was released from prison on medical grounds, though she remains under a three-year suspended sentence. Despite the suffering she’s endured, and at substantial risk to herself, Ms. Tadjibayeva has renewed her activism since her release and is in the process of trying to register the Fiery Hearts group with local authorities. She continues to criticize prison conditions during interviews with independent and international journalists. At the same time, she continues to seek constructive dialogue with authorities on human rights issues.
While Ms. Tadjibayeva has paid a tremendous personal price for her defense of others, she has shown no regrets for her continued activism. Her astonishing courage is a force for transparency, democracy, and good governance in Uzbekistan as well as a larger example of the power of an individual to take a stand and marshal international support for the cause of human rights. As she commented shortly after her release…”they can break my body, but they can never break my spirit.”
Issues Facing the United Kingdom, the United States and the World
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello. I’m delighted to welcome back to the State Department a friend and someone with whom we have a very positive working relationship, Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Our two countries have stood side by side confronting global challenges for a very long time, and we’ve just had a substantive, broad-based discussion about a number of issues that are facing both the United Kingdom and the United States and the world.
I think it is fair to say, and I would underscore this, that we share fundamental values and important fundamental objectives. It ranges across the fight against terrorism and combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction, to working together to solve the current global financial crisis and ensure that the benefits of a renewed global economy are spread widely. We’ve worked together and will continue to deepen our working relationship in combating poverty and disease, and confronting global climate change.
I also want to thank the Foreign Secretary and Her Majesty’s government for the sacrifice and commitment of the British troops who put their lives on the line day in and day out. I’m particularly grateful for the work that they do in Afghanistan, and we’re going to be working closely together in the weeks and months ahead along with our other NATO allies to enhance our support for the people of Afghanistan.
We’re working together also in Pakistan. And as you know, the President and I have appointed a special representative to that region because we see those two countries as linked together. And we want to forge a positive relationship, and we know that the United Kingdom shares that approach.
We have pledged again to join efforts to achieve a comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East, and our combined effort and energies will be directed to that end.
Issues That Affect Germany, the United States and the International Community
Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. I’m very pleased to be here today with Foreign Minister Steinmeier. We have had an excellent and broad discussion. Germany is one of our closest allies, and we greatly value opportunities like today to discuss the issues that affect our nations and the international community as a whole.
I conveyed to the Foreign Minister this afternoon our deep appreciation for everything Germany has done for the people of Afghanistan and for its continued commitment to this important effort. As President Obama has made quite clear, we need our closest allies, like Germany, to help us ensure the success and stability of the Afghanistan nation at this very important moment.
We also discussed Iran. The United States and Germany must work together to ensure that Iran fulfills its obligations to the international community. President Obama has signaled his intention to support tough and direct diplomacy with Iran, but if Tehran does not comply with United Nations Security Council and IAEA mandates, there must be consequences. The United States, Germany, and our EU partners must coordinate closely to obtain the best possible outcomes.
We also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the importance of coordination between our countries to ensure that the ceasefire that is being worked toward in Gaza is sustainable.
We discussed a broad range of issues, including what we see as the need to work constructively and develop a common approach with Russia in the coming months on issues like Afghanistan, Iran, Georgia, and others.
You know, the longstanding and enduring German-American relationship is close and firm. And as our meeting today made clear, we rely on Germany’s support and assistance to face global challenges together. And so it is my sincere hope – and my delight that I was able to welcome the Foreign Minister here today. I look forward to working with him on a personal basis and on behalf of our two countries to make the kind of progress that he and I and we all share and hope to see occur.
Thank you so much.