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British military hardware 'was used in Uzbek massacre'

Scotsman | May 26 2005

BRITISH military equipment was used in the massacre of hundreds of protesters in Uzbekistan, it was claimed today.

Photographic evidence is said to show soldiers taking cover beside Land Rover Defenders as they confronted demonstrators.

Up to 500 unarmed men, women and children were shot dead in Andijan on May 13.

The Department for Trade and Industry said no evidence had been received that the jeeps came from the UK or included British components.

However, the vehicles are thought to have been produced using largely British parts in Turkey, which has close links to the Uzbekistan regime.

The revelation comes ahead of next month’s G8 summit where Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will push for an arms trade treaty banning sales of any weapon that could be used against civilians.

That should prevent exports to Uzbekistan, which the United Nations has condemned for "systematic" use of torture.

But campaigners have repeatedly warned the Government there is a "massive loophole" in UK law that allows regimes to get hold of British weapons.

Umbrella organisation the UK Working Group on Arms, which includes Amnesty International, has written to Trade Secretary Alan Johnson to say the Andijan massacre had realised its worst fear.


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