Uzbek embassy tells police to stop campaign for release of journalist

Police officers talk to campaigners
Uznews.net – The Uzbek embassy in Berlin yesterday asked German police to step in to halt a campaign for the release of journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov, Uznews.net’s correspondent in Karakalpakstan. The request came just before a reception to mark Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov’s visit to Berlin.

When police officers arrived at the embassy, they told representatives of the Uzbekistan Press Freedom Group, which organised the campaign, to remove a van covered with photos of the imprisoned journalist and park it at least 50 metres away from the embassy.

The van had been driving round the embassy to raise awareness among guests invited to the reception that Uzbekistan has imprisoned journalists like Salijon Abdurahmanov who are critical of Uzbek government policies.

The Uzbekistan Press Freedom Group believes that the 60-year-old journalist should not serve his 10-year term on falsified drug possession charges but should be released immediately.

Galima Bukharbaeva, editor-in-chief of Uznews.net, said Abdurahmanov’s imprisonment was unlawful, but indicative of the oppressive nature of President Islam Karimov’s regime.

“Karimov and his confidants decide who should or should not be jailed, and which prisoners can be exchanged, like prisoners of war, as a negotiating tool with Western partners and who should remain hostage,” she said. “Our colleague Salijon is a decent and honest person and he is not a thing or a product. He should not spend his life in prison at Karimov’s whim.”

The van outside the Uzbek embassy
Salijon Abdurahmanov turns 61 on 28 May. Bukharbaeva expressed the hope that this would be his last birthday in prison and that he would soon be released.

“We will continue to campaign for the release of Salijon,” Bukharbaeva said. “The regime in Tashkent should not be allowed any peace while it continues to keep him in prison.

Here is the video of the campaign for the release of Abdurahmanov in Berlin: