The march will end a week of events aimed at raising international awareness of alleged atrocities currently
ignored due to the central Asian country’s status as a US partner
in the ‘war on terror’.

Demonstrators claim the Uzbek regime president, Islam Karimov, has allegedly arrested tens of thousands of citizens – using extra-judicial executions and torture regularly.

Dr Imran Waheed, a British doctor and one of the organisers of Saturday’s march, says: “The West’s closest ally in Central Asia is imprisoning, torturing, raping and killing Uzbek Muslims in a war on virtually any form of Islam not controlled by its ruthless state.”

The London director of Human Rights Watch, Steve Crawshaw, reported last February that police in Uzbekistan use electric shock, beatings and rape to compel confessions.

“In one case last year, doctors found that burns on the body of a prisoner who died in custody were caused by immersion in boiling water. The hands had no fingernails. That is the style of the Karimov regime”, Crawshaw added.

Uzbek-West partnership

Waheed believes that the human rights abuses in the central Asia republic have the tacit blessing of US and European governments.

Last week, President Karimov awarded the outgoing US Ambassador, John Herbst, the ‘Order of Friendship’ in recognistion of the close co-operation between the two regimes.

“Herbst reciprocated by calling Karimov ‘a very strong and wise person’ on Uzbek television,” Waheed said.

The United States send hundreds of thousands of dollars in military assistance and aid annually, according to Human Rights Watch.

Demonstration organisers say they have received international support from countries as far away as South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, America and Canada as well as from the British public itself.