Bakhodyr Choriev, Birdamlik’s leader, has organized protest actions in Uzbekistan and in the United States © birdamlik.info
The political opposition movement Birdamlik is holding its strategy meeting in the United States on April 26-27, but two of its main participants are too ill too attend.
Human rights activist Elena Urlaeva and Birdamlik Uzbek leader Malokhat Jeshankulova will be unable to participate in the upcoming meeting set to take place in St. Louis.
Even though Urlaeva has been released from hospital after her recent health scare, she is still recovering and is mostly confined to bed. Jeshankulova appears to be gravely ill and is bed-ridden.
The meeting initially set for 9-10 April had been postponed due to the difficulties experienced by its participants in obtaining exit visas and passports, says Birdamlik leader, Bakhodyr Choriev.
Fifteen people from Uzbekistan – fourteen Birdamlik members and Elena Urlaeva – have been invited to attend.
Practically all participants from Uzbekistan experienced problems with obtaining the required exit visa. Luckily three Birdamlik members already had visas before the meeting was announced.
Hypnotized or poisoned?
The sudden health problems experienced both by Urlaeva and Jeshankulova have raised suspicions among their friends and colleagues.
Urlaeva, head of Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, suddenly become subdued and listless, her condition then progressing to extreme tiredness and sleepiness. Her relatives took her to hospital on February 23 fearing her health would worsen further.
After she recovered, Urlaeva stated that she believe that she had been poisoned.
The leader of PAU spent more than a month at a psychiatric hospital in Tashkent where she received a treatment of strong anti-psychotropic drugs. Urlaeva believes her current poor health condition to be the result of the initial poisoning and her subsequent treatment.
She left the hospital on April 3, but has yet to return to work.
Malokhat’s health is still deteriorating
Jeshankulova is also bed-ridden at home, and has lost a great deal of weight.
“It’s hard to speak, hard to breath, and I can’t really walk,” she says about her current condition.
Malokhat started feeling unwell in mid-December after Birdamlik published an article on its website describing police retaliation against her after she and a number of her Birdamlik colleagues tried to organize a political action commemorating the Constitution Day. Jeshankulova was detained by police and then dropped off at a cemetery in the middle of the night.
Only later in March when she started losing weight did Jeshankulova begin to suspect that she had been deliberately poisoned by the authorities.
Given these suspicions she appealed to the embassies of the United States, Great Britain, and France for assistance in getting independent medical aid in Tashkent.
Despite this appeal being supported by the Real Union of Journalists in Uzbekistan the embassies were unwilling to provide help.
Jeshankulova is currently in such poor health that she cannot even contemplate traveling to the US for the Birdamlik meeting.
“If am still alive by then, I will try to take part by Skype,” she says.