Uzbekistan hides jailed journalist from Red Cross

Imprisoned Karakalpak journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov
Prison camp No 64/61 near Karshi tried to deceive inspectors of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by posing a different prisoner as journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov.

The administration of prison camp No 64/61 in Uzbekistan's Kashkadarya Region has been hiding jailed journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov from ICRC inspectors for several months.

The journalist’s relatives said that ICRC inspectors had been trying to meet Abdurahmanov since last summer. During their first attempt to see the journalist, he had been driven away to an unknown place, where he was kept until the committee inspectors’ left the prison camp.

This autumn, the journalist’s son, Davron, said, ICRC inspectors came to the prison again, but this time the prison administration arranged a meeting with “a fake Abdurahmanov”.

“Father said that he was driven away in an unknown direction and a different prisoner was brought to the meeting instead, as if he were Salijon Abdurahmanov,” Davron said.

ICRC representatives immediately established that it was someone else before them, the journalist himself told his son at a meeting.

The “fake” journalist said he was Salijon Abdurahmanov, but ICRC members refused to believe him, saying that they had seen a photo of the journalist and have their own view of him.

The ICRC office in Tashkent has not commented on the Karshi prison authorities’ behaviour yet.

Salijon Abdurahmanov, an Uznews.net correspondent in Karakalpakstan, was arrested in June 2008 on trumped-up charges of attempting to sell drugs.

A court in Nukus sentenced him to 10 years in prison, although the local police did not do anything to prove his guilt and not even concealed that the case was fabricated.

Salijon Abdurahmanov is 62. He may well have been pardoned because of his age when Uzbekistan has repeatedly announced amnesty and released people who are older than 60.

Father said that he was driven away in an unknown direction and a different prisoner was brought to the meeting instead, as if he were Salijon Abdurahmanov

Davron Abdurahmanov

But the Karshi prison authorities imputed violations to him that he had never done. This prevented him from enjoying the Uzbek government’s “charitable act”.

International Amnesty, a well-known rights watchdog, has recognised Salijon Abdurahmanov as a “prisoner of conscience”.

Uznews.net