Reuters Continued crackdowns on human rights in Central Asia could backfire by encouraging extremist ideologies, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday, winding up a visit to the volatile former Soviet region. By Marat Gurt
'Ban chose Turkmenistan, viewed by
human rights groups as one of the world's most despotic and isolated
regimes, to deliver a passionate message to the resource-rich, mainly
Muslim Central Asian region that borders Russia, China, Iran and Afghanistan.
vast area once ruled by Moscow and comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, has long faced criticism from
the West and rights groups over its record on basic freedoms, ethnic
minorities, judicial independence and its lack of accountable
to students in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, Ban said he was impressed
by the region's economic growth since his last visit five years ago, but
added: "I have also heard concerns about the deterioration of some
aspects of human rights – a shrinking of democratic space."'