Jan 212011

Brussels: Front Line Open letter to President of European Commission highlights risks to human rights defenders in Uzbekistan

Posted on 2011/01/21

In advance of the meeting between President Manuel Barroso of the European Commission and President Karimov of Uzbekistan, scheduled for Monday 24 January, Front Line has published an open letter to President Barroso setting out the organisation’s key concerns about the dangers to human rights defenders in Uzbekistan.

Further Information

Mr José Manuel Barroso

President of the European Commission

B-1049 Brussels

Dublin, 21 January 2011

Re: Your meeting with Mr Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, on 24 January 2011

Dear Commission President,

Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, has been informed that you will be meeting Mr Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, on Monday 24 January 2011 on the occasion of Mr Karimov’s discreet visit to Brussels.

Mr Karimov heads one of the most authoritarian regimes in Central Asia, which systematically targets and harshly represses all courageous voices defending human rights. Torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, fabricated prosecutions, imprisonment and excessive force are used to prevent human rights defenders and independent journalists from carrying out their legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

One of the strategies used to silence human rights defenders is to impose upon many of them excessive prison sentences. There are also grave concerns for the health conditions of several human rights defenders currently in detention, who do not have access to adequate medical treatment.

Your meeting with Mr Karimov reminds us of our concern about the EU policy towards Uzbekistan, almost 6 years after the Andijan massacre which has never been investigated despite EU request and past sanctions. Front Line, however, thinks such a meeting is an opportunity to raise the situation of human rights defenders in Uzbekistan.

In accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, which state that the EU will “underline its support for human rights defenders and their work, and raise individual cases of concern whenever necessary,” we ask you to raise the cases of the following detained human rights defenders:

  • Salijon Abdurahmanov,
  • Khabibbula Akpulatov,
  • Azam Farmonov
  • Nasim Isakov
  • Yusuf Juma and his son Mashrab Juma
  • Alisher Karamatov, Jamshid Karimov
  • Isroiljon Kholdarov
  • Norboi Kholjigitov
  • Abdurasul Khudoynazarov,
  • Zafar Rakhimov
  • Yuldash Rasulev
  • Dilmurod Sayid
  • Akzam Turgunov
  • Gaybullo Jalilov
  • Ganihon Mamathanov, and Maksim Popov

See details in the enclosed annex.

Dialogue with the Uzbek regime would bear meaning only if it leads to the release of all detained human rights defenders and helps put an end to the severe harassment faced by human rights defenders on a daily basis. Otherwise, it will help legitimise Mr Karimov’s appalling human rights record.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Lawlor, Director 1/3 Annex Human rights defenders who serve long prison terms in Uzbekistan:

Salijon Abdurahmanov is a journalist with Uznews.net, member of the Real Union of Journalists of Uzbekistan, and member of the Committee to Protect Individuals’ Rights in Karakalpakstan. He was arrested on 7 June 2008 and accused of drug “use”, although tests revealed that he had not taken any drugs. On 10 October 2008, he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term. He is reportedly detained in the ?64/51 Prison in Karshi.

Khabibbula Akpulatov is a member of the Ishtikhan regional branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU). He was arrested on 4 June 2005, charged with denigration, offences against Uzbek President, attempts to constitutional order, extortion, fraud, illegal establishment of public associations or religious organisations, and sentenced by the regional court of Samarkand to 6 years of detention. Under the Amnesty Act of 2005, his prison sentence was reduced to four years but shortly before his scheduled release on 30 September 2009, Khabibbula Akpulatov was sentenced on the basis of charges of systematic violation of his prison’s internal rules to an additional three years imprisonment by the Navoi regional Criminal Court.

Azam Farmonov is chair of the Syrdarya regional branch of HRSU. He was arrested on 29 April 2006 and sentenced to 9 years under the extortion charges on 16 June 2006. Azam Farmonov is detained in prison 64/71 in Jaslyk.

Nasim Isakov is member of the Jizak regional branch of HRSU. He was arrested on 27 October 2005, charged with extortion and hooliganism. On 20 December 2005, the Jizak criminal court sentenced him to 8 years of imprisonment. He is detained in the ?64/3 Prison in Tavaksay, Tashkent region.

Yusuf Juma is a writer and human rights defender. He was charged with intentional infliction of medium bodily injury, insult and resistance to authority or person fulfilling civil duty. On 15 April 2008, he was sentenced by the Bukhara Regional Court to 5 years of imprisonment. He is detained in the Jaslyk prison in northern Karakalpakstan. Mashrab Juma, son of Yusuf Juma, was detained in late 2007 on charges of stabbing a man. In January 2008, he was sentenced to four years. However, since June 2008 the Bukhara Region television channel has been broadcasting a police announcement that Mashrab broke out of prison and is wanted by police. None of his family members believe that Mashrab could break out of prison. They think that “prison break” is a cover-up for his death in custody.

Alisher Karamatov, Chair of the Mirzaabad regional branch of HRSU, was arrested on 29 April 2006 on extortion charges, and on 16 June 2006, the tribunal of Yangier sentenced him to 9 years of imprisonment. He is reportedly detained in the ?64/49 prison in Karshi. He is being harassed by prison personnel and family visits are systematically shortened.

Jamshid Karimov, independent journalist, correspondent for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and member of the HRSU, was arrested on 12 September 2006 and sentenced on the same day to 3 years’ internment in a psychiatric hospital by the Djizak Court. No further information has been received about his whereabouts or his condition.

Isroiljon Kholdarov, chair of the Andijan branch of Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan “Ezgulik”. On 10 July 2006, he was arrested in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and brought by force in Uzbekistan. He was charged with attempts to constitutional order of republic of Uzbekistan, illegal exit from or entry in republic of Uzbekistan, production and dissemination of materials containing threat to public security. According to the information received, he is currently detained in the prison ?64/29 of Navoi. He is reportedly in a bad health condition.

Norboi Kholjigitov, Chair of the Ishtikhan district branch of HRSU, was arrested on 4 June 2005. On 18 October 2005, the Samarkand Regional Criminal Court sentenced Norboy Kholjigitov to ten

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