Uzbekistan: Government crackdown on human rights defenders

Report
March 22, 2007

Uzbekistan: Government crackdown on human rights defenders


Dzhamshid Karimov, a journalist and relative of President Karimov, has reportedly been detained in a psychiatric hospital since September 2006 after going missing in Dzhizzakh. The local authorities denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, while at the same time stating that he had undergone psychiatric treatment in the past. His family were threatened by the local authorities and had their telephone cut off after they alerted international organizations to their fears that his disappearance was linked to his work as a journalist. He is reportedly still in a locked ward of the psychiatric hospital in Samarkand. He had apparently been considering leaving the country following harassment for his work for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and other international websites.

Harassment

In November 2006 journalist Aleksei Volosevich was attacked by five unidentified men who knocked him to the ground near his home in Tashkent, poured buckets of green paint all over him and painted threats on the door to his apartment building. He has faced harassment since he reported on the Andizhan killings on the main independent Russian-language website, www.Ferghana.ru. He was subsequently accused of treason in Pravda Vostoka (Truth of the East), a newspaper owned by the government. He also reported on the trial of 15 men charged with organizing the Andizhan protests and other trials of opposition leaders.

Elena Urlaeva

Only five out of 11 human rights defenders, invited to meet the new German Ambassador in Tashkent in September 2006, managed to get to the meeting. The rest were threatened, placed under house-arrest or, as in the case of Elena Urlaeva, forced into a police car, driven around for four hours, threatened and questioned.

Elena Urlaeva has been detained and assaulted numerous times since 2002. In one instance, from August to September 2002, she was forcibly confined to a psychiatric hospital for holding a human rights protest outside the Ministry of Justice building in Tashkent. On 28 June 2005 she was reportedly punched, kicked and verbally abused by three Internal Affairs officers while protesting against a colleague’s detention outside the Ministry of Internal Affairs, before being questioned by police about her involvement in demonstrations. On 27 August 2005 she was detained as she distributed leaflets in Tashkent, charged with "desecrating state symbols" and detained at the Psychiatric Hospital in Tashkent. Although the hospital’s evaluation, given on 20 September, was that she was "healthy, sane, and adequate", on 23 September she was transferred to the Republican Psychiatric Hospital, which declared her mentally ill and in need of medical treatment. She was released at the end of October 2005.

[Photo caption]
© Private
Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov

© Private
Mutabar Tadzhibaeva

© Uznews.net
Umida Niazova

Adapted from a UN map
Uzbekistan – Government crackdown on human rights defenders
© AI

© Andrea Berg/ HRW
Azam Farmonov

© Private
Ulugbek Khaidarov in prison

© Uznews.net
Dzhamshid Karimov

© Ferghana.ru
Aleksei Volosevich

© Uznews.net
Elena Urlaeva

Recommendations

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Uzbekistan to: