Sep 212012


Posted 2012/9/20

Uzbekistan: Update – Ongoing harassment of human rights defender Uktam Pardayev


Human rights defender Mr Uktam Pardayev has reported being subjected to constant harassment in recent weeks.

In mid-September 2012, Uktam Pardayev, Chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (IHRSU) in the region of Djizak, was followed by a white Daewoo Nexia car, the licence plate of which is known to Front Line Defenders, driven by persons in plain clothes. The human rights defender pulled into a yard when he noticed he was being followed, and he saw the people who were following him stop and look for him before driving away.

On 8 September 2012, Uktam Pardayev’s neighbours were visited by officers from the Djizak Department of Interior Affairs and questioned about the human rights defender’s activities, including questions on who he meets and where he goes. Previously, on 30 August, two Djizak police officers went to Uktam Pardayev’s home and asked for his phone number from his mother. The human rights defender was not home at the time. When Uktam Pardayev called the police officers back, he was told that they had been instructed to visit him by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Uktam Pardayev believes that these measures began after he was visited at his home by representatives of the American Embassy in Uzbekistan in the context of his human rights activities.

In addition to this, the human rights defender cannot obtain an exit visa, for which he applied at the end of last year. On 11 June 2012, the Djizak Inter-District Court refused to consider Uktam Pardayev’s appeal against the denial of his visa application on the ground that it was outside of the court’s jurisdiction. On 29 August 2012, the Regional Court of Djizak, overruled the decision of the court of first instance and sent the appeal back to be heard by the court.

Front Line Defenders reiterates its calls on the Uzbek authorities to provide Uktam Pardayev with an exit visa and to immediately cease all harassment of the human rights defender, including unwarranted surveillance.

For further information, please refer to the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal and update, dated 10 may 2012 and 1 August 2012 respectively.


Kyrgyzstan: Arbitrary arrest of human rights defender Mr Farhodhon Muhtarov

Farhodhon Muhtarov

On 14 September 2012, human rights defender Mr Farhodhon Muhtarov was arrested and ill-treated by police in the city of Bishkek. He was detained in the local police station but released later that day.

Up until December 2010 when he fled Uzbekistan and applied for political asylum in Kyrgyzstan, Farhodhon Muhtarov worked with the grassroots movement Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, which works on a variety of human rights issues including torture, access to justice, the right to a fair trial, economic and social rights, and the rights of vulnerable groups.

On 14 September, police broke down the door of Farhodhon Muhtarov’s apartment, beat him and verbally insulted him and members of his family. The police did not produce an arrest warrant, nor did they provide any explanation for the human rights defender’s arrest until he was in the police car on the way to police station, when he was told he would be extradited to Uzbekistan due to a request made by the Uzbek authorities. Farhodhon Muhtarov produced the identification card he had been given by the Kyrgyz authorities stating that he had applied for asylum, but the arresting officers refused to take it into consideration, claiming that the ID was fake. At no stage was the human rights defender provided with any official documents or explanations regarding the reasons for his arrest.

Following the arrest, several local human rights defenders went to the police station to intervene on Farhodhon Muhtarov’s behalf. They highlighted the arbitrary nature of the arrest and police released him several hours later. However, police officials are denying him and his family access to their apartment and they have changed the locks. Reportedly, these officials have verbally demanded money from Farhodhon Muhtarov in return for allowing him back into his home. Moreover, police officials who remained to search the apartment after Farhodhon Muhtarov’s arrest seized documents and electronic goods, including a laptop computer and a video recorder.

In 2009, Farhodhon Muhtarov was sentenced to 5 years in prison in Uzbekistan on trumped-up charges of fraud. For further information, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal dated 12 October 2009. In December 2010, his sentence was changed to forced labour. The change of sentence gave Farhodhon Muhtarov the opportunity to flee Uzbekistan for Kyrgyzstan, where he applied for political asylum. He also filed an application for asylum to the UNHCR, but there has not yet been any decision made on either of these applications.

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