Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2010

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  • In April Elena Urlaeva, a leading member of the Human Rights Alliance, was assaulted by two unidentified men as she was leaving her home with her five-year-old son early in the morning. She said they threatened her with a knife, beat her and asked why she was still in the country. The same week her son sustained concussion and bruising after being beaten by an unidentified young man at a playground. She was among a group of human rights defenders who were prevented by police from publicly commemorating the fourth anniversary of the Andizhan killings and detained as they left their homes on the morning of 13 May. Seven were detained at police stations for over seven hours; others were held under house arrest.
  • Bakhtior Khamroev and Mamir Azimov, members of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, were briefly detained in Dzhizzakh in November to prevent them meeting Bakhodir Choriev, a recently returned exile and leader of the unregistered political opposition movement Birdamlik. Bakhtior Khamroev was reportedly punched in the face by a plain-clothes police officer and dragged from the car in which he was sitting with Bakhodir Choriev, who was also assaulted when he got out of the car. The same day Mamir Azimov was taken to a district police station for questioning about the intended meeting. He said officers punched him in the kidneys and slapped his head, made him stand with his legs apart holding a chair above his head for over an hour, and threatened that his legs and arms would be broken if he sought medical help on release or reported the ill-treatment. Bakhodir Choriev was forced to leave the country in December.
  • In December a researcher with the international NGO Human Rights Watch was assaulted in the town of Karshi by an unidentified attacker, then detained by police and deported from Uzbekistan. At least three human rights activists she had intended to meet in Karshi and Margilan were briefly detained.

Freedom of religion

Religious communities continued to be under strict control by the government, which restricted their right to freedom of religion. Those most affected were members of unregistered groups such as Christian Evangelical congregations and Muslims worshipping in unregistered mosques.

  • Suspected followers of the Turkish Muslim theologian, Said Nursi, were convicted in a series of trials. The charges against them included membership or creation of an illegal religious extremist organization and publishing or distributing materials threatening the social order. According to independent religious experts, Said Nursi represented a moderate and nonviolent interpretation of Islam. By October at least 68 men had been sentenced to prison terms of between six and 12 years following seven unfair trials. Appeals against the sentences were rejected.

More trials were reportedly pending at the end of the year but it was not clear how many more individuals had been detained. Reportedly, some of the verdicts were based on confessions obtained under torture in pre-trial detention; defence and expert witnesses were not called; access to the trials was in some cases obstructed; and other trials were closed. Before the start of the trials national television denounced the accused as "extremists" and "a threat to the country's stability", compromising their right to be presumed innocent before trial.

Amnesty International reports

Uzbekistan: Submission to the Human Rights Committee, 96th session, (28 April 2009)
Uzbekistan: Health condition of POC deteriorating, Norboi Kholzhigitov (10 September 2009)