Uzbek authorities foil picket in Tashkent Region

The present look of Chirchik, once an industrial centre in Tashkent Region
A picket planned by residents of Chirchik in Tashkent Region demanding the resignation of town mayor Furkat Hayrullayev was not held on 19 October as the organisers were detained by police.

“When I went out of my home early in the morning, I immediately noticed I was being watched,” picket organiser Tursun Idrishojayev has said.

It seemed to the human rights activist that he got away from the “tail” after which he came to entrepreneur Gulnara Abdazova who lives near the town administration where a picket was planned at 11 o’clock in the morning on 19 October.

But it was already 10 minutes later when four strongmen knocked on the entrepreneur’s door and told Idrishojayev he was wanted by the local police head.

With the human rights activist, the law enforcement officers also took six banners prepared for the picket.

“I was treated extremely politely. The head of police, then his deputies and officers in plain clothes held discussions about a `correct’ interpretation of laws with me,” Idrishojayev said.

At the same time, the interviewers were very much surprised by the fact that Idrishojayev himself had no problem in his house, but he was “defending others for some reason”.

The human rights defender believes that the police authorities in Chirchik deliberately stalled for time to frustrate the picket. He was let go only at 1235 when the townsmen who came to the square in front of the town administration dispersed.

Police awaited picketers

“People came to the mayor’s office to take part in the picket, but without Tursun and banners which he promised to bring, they did not take the risk of holding a picket,” said a Chirchik resident who asked to be named Alisher.

At the same time, Alisher said, authorities did not rule out the possibility that residents would try to express their protest without the main picket organiser as a deputy mayor was awaiting this standing on the porch of the mayor’s office and there were numerous “policemen holding batons” on the square.

The leader of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, Elena Urlayeva, said that picketers were also expected on the road to the presidential residence in the village of Durmen in Tashkent where the picket’s second stage was planned to be held.

“Near the checkpoint there were well-familiar officers from the Mirzo-Ulugbek district department for fighting terrorism,” Urlayeva said.

New protest pledged

Authorities started counteracting a picket demanding the resignation of Chirchik mayor Hayrullayev last Tuesday after announcements were put up in the town informing of the picket time and venue.

The announcements were torn down and Idrishojayev was invited to the deputy head of police to give explanation.

“Pressure on our activist especially mounted yesterday. Idrishojayev was taken to the town interior directorate where he was questioned as to who I was and where I lived, and then a district police officer, the chairman of his neighbourhood and town administration officials kept calling him all evening,” Urlayeva said on 19 October after her visit to Chirchik a day earlier.

The HRAU leader said Chirchik residents were “fed up” with Mayor Furkat Hayrullayev because there is no heating in the town, raids are carried out to take away private property and flower and vegetable gardens were destroyed in places where litters are now piled up.

“Unless the situation changes in Chirchik, we intend to organise new actions demanding the resignation of mayor Hayrullayev,” human rights activists said.