Sacked Muslim teachers to be reinstated in town of Parkent

A street in Parkent
Members of the Uzbek Ombudsman’s staff have visited Tashkent Region’s town of Parkent where over a dozen teachers have been fired for their religiosity.

“This happened thanks to the fact that foreign media outlets have responded immediately to our newsletters about what is happening in Parkent,” the head of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activist (IGNPU), Surat Ikramov, has said.

Representatives of the Oliy Majlis (parliamentary) Ombudsman of Uzbekistan came to Parkent on 6 June and real steps were taken to restore the rule of law in the town on the same day, he said.

The chief of the district department for people’s education, Muhiddin Khasanov, acknowledged the fact of unlawful dismissal of teachers.

He said he had been forced to do so by the head of the Parkent district police department, Shukhratullo Khusanov.

“It was he who gave the chief of the district education department a list of 14 teachers to be fired from their positions `because of their personal on their own accord,“ Ikramov said.

This list mainly included experienced and highly qualified teachers and this truly shocked their colleagues.

After the visit of Ombudsman’s representatives to the head of the district department for people’s education, he immediately invited the heads of schools and lyceums to address the issue of their reinstatement in employment.

What is behind arrests in Parkent?

The press service of the human rights watchdog reported earlier that the heads of the town’s best schools No 1 and lyceum No 5 had also been arrested on charges of religious extremism.

“After our intervention, school head Tahir Abdugafarov was released under a written undertaking not to leave the country,” Ikramov said.

Leaders of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (HRAU), who launched an inquiry into the IGNPU reports in Parkent, said that lyceum No 5 has no doubt about true reasons behind the dismissal of the school head.

Head of school No 1 Tahir Abdugafarov at large
“Someone wanted to get their positions – this is what teachers of this school have told us,” HRAU leader Elena Urlayeva said.

Ikramov also thinks that the reason for the arrest of school head, as well as farmers and entrepreneurs, perhaps, is that local policemen under the guise of fighting Wahhabism want to get hold of prestigious and profitable businesses for their relatives.

“This has not happened in Uzbekistan for the first time,” Ikramov said.

Small victory

Members of the Ombudsman’s staff also visited the Parkent district police department on 6 June, Ikramov said.

The unlawfully sacked teachers are in high spirits and have called the IGNPU to say thank you.

“Pressure on our activists in Parkent Nasiba, Ashirmatova and Gulchekhra Turapova, has also been stopped. Police on 5 June threatened to leave them without exit visas for their involvement in the inquiry,” HRAU member Shukhrat Rustamov said.

In his opinion, the rights of those Parkent residents who suffered lawlessness of the authorities in previous months of the fight against “religious extremism” should also be restored.

“Particularly, our activist, speech therapist Ashirmatova, who was forced to resign from a kindergarten for wearing a Muslim shawl, should be reinstated in employment,” Rustamov said.