Human rights organisations call for release of Uzbek political prisoners

Journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov has been held in prison since June 2008
Nine international human rights organisations have called on the Uzbek government to release all political prisoners in the country in connection with Constitution Day without conditions.

Uzbekistan marks the 20th anniversary of its constitution on 8 December.

Influential human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the American Pen Centre and others, urged the Uzbek government to release all political prisoners under amnesty with connection with the anniversary of the constitution.

“Journalists, rights defenders, writers, and opposition and religious figures held solely on account of their peaceful activities shouldn’t be in prison in the first place,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Freeing political prisoners for Constitution Day is an opportunity for President Islam Karimov to show Uzbekistan’s people and international partners that he’s willing to take a genuine step toward reform.”

A joint press release said that the Uzbek authorities announced amnesty ahead of Constitution Day almost every year but this had hardly been applied to political prisoners.

If they are released they will still continue to be convicts because they do not have legal grounds to reconsider their sentences.

Among political prisoners are Salijon Abdurahmanov, Azam Farmonov, Mehrinisso Hamdamova, Zulhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Holdarov, Nosim Isakov, Gaibullo Jalilov, Abdurasul Hudoynazarov, Erkin Kuziyev, Ganihon Mamathanov, Zafarjon Rahimov, Yuldash Rasulov, Dilmurod Saidov, Akzam
Turgunov and Gulnaza Yuldasheva.

Other prisoners are Isak Abdullayev, Azamat Azimov, Muhammad Bekjanov, Batyrbek Eshkuziyev, Ruhiddin Fahruddinov, Hayrullo Hamidov, Bahrom Ibragimov, Murod Jurayev, Davron Kabilov, Mamadali Karabaev, Matluba Karimova, Samandar Kukanov, Jamol Kutliyev, Mamadali Mahmudov, Gayrat Mehliboyev, Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Rustam Usmanov, Ravshanbek Vafoyev and Akram Yuldashev.

The human rights organisations drew attention to the fact that many political prisoners need medical treatment because prison conditions turned them into ill people. Access to medical services is another call made by human rights activists on the Uzbek authorities.

Torture and ill-treatment are still widespread in Uzbek prisons, according to the latest UN and Human Rights Watch reports.

Agzam Turgunov, the head of the Mazlum human rights organisation sentenced to 10 years in 2008, was poured over with boiled water during an investigation against him.

The Uzbek authorities formally allow inspectors from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisons but create all kinds of obstacles for them to meet political prisoners.

Freeing political prisoners for Constitution Day is an opportunity for President Islam Karimov to show Uzbekistan’s people and international partners that he’s willing to take a genuine step toward reform”

Steve Swerdlow
Salijon Abdurahimov, who is serving a term in a prison outside Karshi, was hidden by the prison administration during an ICRC inspection and once tried to present someone else as him.

Mutabar Tajibayeva, a prominent Uzbek activist, who is living in France, joined the appeal.

She said human rights activists, journalists and opposition members had suffered enough from the regime so that in the year of the 20th anniversary of the country’s constitution President Karimov should start showing respect for the country’s constitution and international commitments.

Uznews.net