Writer Mamadali Mahmudov receives head injury in prison

Mamadali Mahmudov has served 12 years and nine months in prison so far
Mamadali Mahmudov, a political prisoner since 1999, has received a head injury in prison and is suffering from tuberculosis, the Human Rights in Central Asian association has said.

The 72-year-old dissident writer’s head injury has become known after his daughter visited him in a Chirchik prison outside Tashkent on 14 November.

She said Mahmudov had received a head injury and he had had a hypertensive seizure.

“I saw my father was exhausted and he could hardly speak and move around,” the writer’s daughter told human rights activists.

Mahmudov did not tell his daughter about the cause of the injury perhaps because a prison guard was present for the whole duration of their meeting, human rights activists assumed.

The imprisoned writer complained about his high blood pressure as it jumps to 200 to 150. Several years ago he fell ill with tuberculosis.

The association said Mahmudov was admitted to Tashkent’s prison hospital on 26 October where several stitches were placed on his injury.

Paid for friend

Mamadali Mahmudov, a close friend and follower of the opposition Erk party’s leader Muhammad Salih, was arrested in 1999 after terrorist acts in Tashkent on 16 February 1999.

Along with Salih’s two brothers, Muhammad and Rashid Bekjan, he was accused of attempted coup d’état and of terrorist activities, and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in August 1999.

Mahmudov was first sentenced in 1994 when he was a chairman of the Cultural Fund of Uzbekistan. During a search in his house drugs and an Erk leaflet were planted, but Mahmudov was convicted of theft.

Public organisations’ involvement and an international campaign in defence of the writer helped him get out of prison under amnesty.

Close and faraway freedom

Mahmudov has another two years of his term to serve. Activists fear that the prison administration may falsify a new criminal case against him under Article 221 - disobedience to lawful demands of the prison administration.

Mahmudov may be handed down an additional term of three to five years and this may keep him in prison for the rest of his life, activists said.

This technique of keeping political dissidents in prison despite their completion of their terms has become widespread in Uzbekistan.

On 24 January 2012, five years were added to the 15-year term of Muhammad Bekjan, a former editor of the Erk newspaper. A ruling was issued several weeks ahead of his expected release.

Mamadali Mahmudov, who published his works under the pseudonym of Evril Turon, was born in 1940. He headed the Turkestan movement of Uzbek intelligentsia in 1989-1993 and the Cultural Fund of Uzbekistan in the 1990s.

Mahmudov received Uzbekistan’s Chulpan literary prize, set up to commemorate victims of Stalin’s repressions, and received a Hellman-Hammett grant, provided to victims of political repressions. He received these awards for his Immortal Rocks historical novel, which was translated into French in 2008.

The Human Rights in Central Asia association asks the Office of the UN High Commissionaire for Human Rights, the UN Special rapporteur on torture, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the PEN Club and other international organisations to urgently interfere in Mahmudov’s situation, drawing attention to his serious health condition.