13.1.15

Turkey: the leader of «Group 24» Umarali Kuvatov faces a threat of extradition

The leader of a political movement of Tajikistan «Group 24» Umarali Kuvatov is in detention in Istanbul since 19 December 2014.

According to current information available to our organisation, Umarali Kuvatov is detained in the police department for foreigners of the Bureau of Centre for Deportations (Yabancilar Şubesi Sinsrdişi Işlemleri ve Geri Gönderme Merkezi Büro Amirliği). Before that he was held in the Gayreteppe police station of Istanbul (Istanbul Gayrettepe Asayis Sube Mudurlugu Hirsizlik Buro Amirligi). 

Umarali Kuvatov
Umarali Izatovich Kuvatov was born on 21 November 1968 in the city of Dushanbe. He is a citizen of Tajikistan, married and has children. He is an entrepreneur.

From 2001 to 2012 U. Kuvatov, in cooperation with Shamsullo Sokhibov, the sun-in-law of the President Imomali Rakhmon, worked on shipment of fuel to the NATO base in Afghanistan. As a result of a conflict with Sokhibov, he had to leave the country and became a member of the opposition.

In 2012 Kuvatov became a leader of the «Group 24» movement, which campaigns for stopping the President of Tajikistan. In 2014 Tajikistan declared the «Group 24» an «extremist organisation».

Kuvatov has been living in Turkey since July 2014. He entered Turkey on a passport to someone else's name, explaining that it was the only way to avoid his arrest on departure from Bishkek. In 2013, in Bishkek, Kuvatov applied for international protection under the UNHCR and his case is still pending. In the first days after his arrival, he registered with the UNHCR Office in Istanbul. However, he did not register with the Turkish police which lead to a violation of administrative law of Turkey.

Tajikistan declared Kuvatov as a wanted person and calls the "Group of 24" an extremist organisation.

About 8:30 AM, on 19 December 2014, 7 plain clothed men stormed into the house in Istanbul where Umarali Kuvatov lives with his family. They asked him to identify himself after which they lead away him and other three members of the «Group 24» who were in his house. His house was searched; appliances and a large number of documents relating to political activity of the leader were seized.

The UNHCR is aware of Umarali Kuvatov’s detention, but until now the UNHCR representatives have not visited him and they did not provide legal representation for him. The lawyer hired by Umarali Kuvatov’s wife was able to review the case file, but copies of the documents were seized from him. According to Kuvatov’s wife, copies of documents were taken from the lawyer in front of her, they said that it is a special case and therefore the information was classified. As it appears, the case materials contain some information that Kuvatov reported only to the UNHCR.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia — AHRCA expresses its concern about the situation of the leader of Tajik opposition organisation “Group 24” Umarali Kuvatov and his colleagues Husain Ashuro (date of birth 01.02.1981), Sukhrob Turaev (date of birth 24.11.1978), Abdurashid Khomidov (date of birth 15.12.1989). They all are citizens of Tajikistan. We call on the UNHCR to enforce the principle of confidentiality in this regard, as well as effective international protection from torture and forced extradition to Tajikistan.




Kazakhstan: a prisoner is tortured and forced to leave «Khizb ut-Takhrir»

In Dzheskasgan prison camp, the prisoner Rafis Galiulin is subjected to torture.

Rafis Galiulin
Rafis Rafitovich GALIULIN was born on 29 December 1970 in the city of Astana (former Tselinograd). He is a Kazakhstan national, married and has three children. He is a member of «Khizb ut-Takhrir” and does not hide his beliefs. He is in custody since October 2009. 

On 28-29 October 2014 the prisoner Galuulin was transferred to the prison No. 159/25 which is a Department of the Correctional System located in the Karaganda region. People call this place the Dzhezgan Camp. From 6 to 11 November 2014 he was ordered, under torture, to carry out derogatory orders and forced to give a statement denouncing his membership of “Khizb ut-Takhrir” in front of a video camera. Galiulin was repeatedly beaten in the region of his liver, kidneys and his lower back by 10 people. 

From 21 November to 6 December 2014 Galipulin was held in solitary confinement in violation of terms of the regime. 

From 8 to 22 December 2014 he was held in isolation as a punishment. 

On 13 December 2014 Galiulin was refused the right to meet his wife under a pretext that she did not meet the requirements for a pass warrent when searched. His wife was told that the meeting was cancelled because he violated the order of the detention facility. The meeting was postponed until 24 December 2014. During the next 10 days the prison employees applied ointments to his body to cover up the traces of his injuries.   

Rafis Galiulin arrived at the Dzhezkazgan prison (the institution entitled ДУИС 159/25) from the detention facility titled LA 155/1 [ЛА-155/1] of the Management Committee of the Correctional System  of the Almaty and Almaty region.
  • State of his health 
In one month of his detention in the Dzhezkazgan Camp, Rafis Galiululin lost about 10 kg of body weight. His eyes are getting worse and he lost many of his teeth. All the petitions made asking for medical care are ignored. When his teeth got infected, he had to pull them out and stop the bleeding himself. Any medication brought by his relatives is not passed on to him. Galiulin often gets acute abdominal pain. 
  • The arrest
On 3 October 2009 was arrested by the Kazakhstan National Security Committee (KNB) agents in the apartment he was renting. On the same day he and other five detained [fraudsters] were tortured and forced to give self-incriminating evidence. Their arms were twisted (a method of torture called “the swallow”), their heads were banged against a concrete floor, they were raped using truncheons. Their bodies and faces are bruised.
  • The Sentence
On 3 August 2010 Galiulin was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan:
         — 164, part 2 (Incitement of Social, National, Tribal, Racial, or Religious Enmity);
         — 233-1, part 1 (Promotion of terrorism or public appeals for commission of an act of terrorism, and equally distribution of materials of said contents);
         — 337-1, part 1 (Organisation of the activity of a public or religious association or other organisation after a Court order abolishing it, or banning such activity because of  its extreme nature);
         — 337-1, part 2 (Taking part in the activity of a public or religious association or other organisation after a Court order abolishing it, or banning such activity because of  its extreme nature).
  • The Appeal
Conviction of Rafis Galiulin was appealed to all instances of the Courts, including to the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan and the Prosecutor’s Office, the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the government investigative agencies, Chief Department of the Kazakhstan National Security Committee, the Punitive-Execution Committee at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan. All appeals of his case were reviewed very formalistically. The evidence of torture used against Galiunin is reviewed not in presence of his defence lawyers and he was forced to give written statements to the contrary. 
  • Practice of torture 
Since his arrest and detention Rafis Galiulin is being abused and tortured. The representatives of authorities exert psychological and physical pressure on him. Galiulin is contained in conditions that do not allow investigation of his torture. In Kazakhstan, cruelty to members of informal religious groups, communities and organisations became the norm of the system.
  • Pressure on the family 
Natalia Valerievna Galiulina (Rafis Galiulin’s wife), date of birth 14 April 1980, a citizen of Kazakhstan, is prosecuted.

She was accused of having "extreme religious views" and posting in the Internet of a video message in defence of her husband.

In 2013, while living in Kazakhstan, Galiulina was found guilty under Part 2 of Article 233-1 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan (Promotion of terrorism or extremism or public incitement to commit an act of terrorism). She faces imprisonment of up to 5 years in a penal colony. The Saryark District Court № 2 of Astana handed down a suspended sentence. According to her defence, Natalia Galiulina’s guilt is not proven. The Court did not identify the IP-address belonging to her, her login or the source of upload of the video into the Internet network. Her defence is convinced that Galiulina is prosecuted to prevent her husband from defending against his trumped-up charges.

*   *   *
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA draws attention of the international community to the fact that such actions of the authorities of Kazakhstan contradict the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan and commitments this country made when it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 7, 10, 18 , 19, 26), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Article 15), the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Detention or Imprisonment in any Form (Principles 1, 6, 21).




12.1.15

Azerbaijan: Arif Yunus a human rights activist turned 60

Arif Yunus
Head of the Department of Conflict and 
Migration Institute of Peace and Democracy
Ph.D. in History and conflicts,
Member of the Council of the Association
for Human Rights in Central Asia, 


Members of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia express their respect and congratulate our colleague, a prisoner of conscience, Arif Yunus on his birthday. On 12 January 2015 he turned 60 years old.

Since 5 August 2014 Arif Yunus is held in the detention centre of the Ministry of Security of Azerbaijan. He is isolated and held in conditions comparable to abuse and it is undermining his health. His blood pressure often rises. The complete absence of information about the prisoner's wife and lack of perspectives of justice brought depression and it is having a tall on his health. Shortly before his arrest, he was in the hospital with a diagnosis of pre-stoke condition. Petitions of lawyers to change the measure of restraint went unheeded.

His wife, Leyla Yunus is in pre-trial detention centre of Baku. According to people who have seen her recently, she was reported to have a great difficulty in moving because of immobility of her left leg, her eye-sight is getting worse. Her body is exhausted and practically no longer can take any food.

During the five months of imprisonment of Arif and Leyla Yunus, three lawyers were taken off the case only for the fact that they fulfilled their professional duties. Over the entire period of the imprisonment, the investigator carried out only one interview; at all other times, the course of the investigation is not clear either to the detainees or their lawyers.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur of the European Union for Human Rights, the European Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the democratic community to press for immediate release of Arif and Leyla Yunus. We also urge the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan to pay special attention to the situation of the prisoners Arif and Leyla Yunus because of deterioration of their health.

We ask the US Ambassador to make the terms of their release clear – there is no investigation and there should not be one.


8.1.15

«We are Charlie»


The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia deeply mourns the victims of violence, carried out by terrorists in the «Charlie Hebdo» magazine. We feel great sorrow together with relatives of the victims.

On 7 January 2015 in Paris, in the office of the French satirical magazine «Charlie Hebdo» (a weekly) 10 employees and 2 policemen were killed. Ten people were injured, four of them are in critical condition.

Religious belief is a private matter of an individual, and no one has the right to kill those whose views one "does not like". If someone does not agree with the position of the opponent, one can argue orally or in writing, using the right of expression. Shooting of «Charlie Hebdo» employees is shooting at freedom of speech, a stronghold of tolerance and democracy.

This act or terror is an attack on human rights. Paragraph 2 of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Protection of this right is one of the most important tasks of the state. Militant religious fanatics are closely monitoring the situation in France: Will the leadership of the country do everything possible to prevent an attack on freedom and civilization? If not - this will increase the offensive. Cartoons or any other form of freedom of expression would be just an excuse for an attack. 

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia condemns the killing and violence. Our team is convinced that the terrorist attacks only unite us all in faced with the threat of rising Islamophobia. It should be remembered that peaceful Muslims are not related to the actions of religious radicals. We express our solidarity with the participants of mass meetings in defence of human rights and freedom of speech.

photo: by Temur Klichev / AHRCA, 7 January 2015, Paris 

photo: by Temur Klichev / AHRCA, 7 January 2015, Paris 

photo: by Temur Klichev / AHRCA, 7 January 2015, Paris 



24.12.14

Uzbekistan: a trial of «traitors of the Motherland» took place



On 24 December 2014, in Uzbekistan, a sentence was issued on the case of the citizens previously deported from Norway. 

On 11 December 2014, just before the trial, in violation of the principle of presumption of innocence, a propaganda film entitled «Xiyona», "Betrayal" in translation from Uzbek, was broadcast in Uzbekistan on the TV channel "Uzbekistan". In the film, the deportees were presented as "false witnesses", "traitors to the Motherland" and "religious extremists".

The Tashkent Region Criminal Court charged 9 individuals. 6 young men were sentenced to 12-13 years of imprisonment. They were accused of being a member of so called “Islamic movement of Turkistan” which is declared to be a terrorist organisation. They were sentenced under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 “Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan”, 244-1 “Production and Dissemination of Materials Containing Threat to Public Security and Public Order”, 244-2 “Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations”, and 246 “Smuggling”. Below are personal details of each of them. Three other were accused under Article 241 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan “Failure to Report about Crime or Concealment Thereof”, Timur Tulkunovich Zaitov, Ikramkhoja Bakhramovich Agzamov, Akmal Akhmadalievich Zakirov. The Court issued a pardon in relation to them. 

All of the accused, between 2008 and 2014, came to Norway looking for work. They could not find jobs in Uzbekistan for various reasons. They used the procedure of asylum to legalise there stay in Norway. Persons who are seeking asylum have the right to work. Norway considered their asylum applications, but did not find a confirmation of them facing politically motivated prosecution back in Uzbekistan. This is a requirement under the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. In the spring of 2014, Norway deported these individuals to their country of origin. Three months after returning home, they were detained for 15 days for violation of administrative rules.

During the first six days of the period of investigation in the detention centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, all six people were tortured. They were struck with a rubber truncheon on the soles of their feet, head and torso, electric shocks were applied and they were starved for up to six days. Their bodies still show swelling, one of them has a torn tongue. During the investigation they had lawyers provided by the state, and the lawyer know that their clients were tortured. But none of the lawyers made an application for a forensic examination to be conducted. At the trial, the defendants and their defence said about the use of torture, but the Court ignored all the submissions.

All six defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. The allegation of the involvement of the accused in the banned organisation was built on the testimony of intimidated witnesses. It was stated that one of the defendants watched online videos of religious organisation at in the communal area of their residence, because they all lived in the same shared apartment in Norway. This accusation looks strange also because not all of them know how to use a computer and the Internet. For example, this applies to Shukhrat Ilhamov. Witnesses for the prosecution did not readily recognize the defendants, who allegedly communicated with them in Norway. The Court’s evaluation of the actions committed in another country is not valid; there were no charges against them put forward by Norway. 

Below is the information about the imprisoned citizens of Uzbekistan who were deported from Norway.

1. Asadulla Xayrullayevich RIXSIYEV, born in 1986 in Tashkent. In 2007 he graduated from the Information Technology University. He was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

2. Zafar Salim ogli KARIMOV , born in 1985 in Tashkent. Educated to higher education level. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

3. Davron Axrolovich RAHMONOV, born in 1984 in Tashkent. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

4. Ahmadjon Muhammadjonovich Creator , born in 1980 in Tashkent. He was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

5. Shuhrat Qodirovich ILHOMOV, born in 1977 in Tashkent. He is married and has two children. He has a secondary education. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

6. Jahongir Qochqorovich TOJIEV, born in 1984 in Tashkent. He is married and has two children. 
He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), 244-2 (Establishment, Direction of or Participation in Religious Extremist, Separatist, Fundamentalist or Other Banned Organizations). In the Trial, he said that he was tortured during the investigation stage of the case.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia — AHRCA:

          — calls on Norway to establish a commission and send it to Uzbekistan in order to examine the consequences of the deportation of citizens of Uzbekistan, including the convicted;


          — calls on the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, within its mandate, to show interest in the fate of victims of torture;


          — calls on the Representative of European Union to the Republic of Uzbekistan, to show active participation in the protection against torture in the present criminal case and to monitor the entire appeal proceedings, following the principle of objectivity and fairness, within the framework of the EU strategy in relation to Uzbekistan and in defence of the values of the European Union.




20.12.14

Turkey: the leader of «Goup 24» Umarali Kuvatov is detained

On 19 December 2014 based on information from an unknown caller, in Istanbul, a leader of the opposition movement «Group 24» Umarali Kuvatov was detained.

Umarali Kuvatov
Umarali Izatovich Kuvatov, was born on 21 November 1968 in the city of Dushanbe. He is citizen of Tajikistan, married, has children. He is an entrepreneur.

In 2013 he applied for asylum via the UNHCR, his application is still pending. 

From  2001 to 2012 U. Kuvatov in cooperation with Shamsullo Sokhibov, the sun in law of the President Imomali Rakhmon worked on shipment of fuel to the NATO base in Afghanistan. As a result of a conflict with Sokhibov, he had to leave the country and became a member of the opposition. 

In 2012 Kuvatov became a leader of the «Group 24» movement,  which campaigns for stopping the President of Tajikistan. 

In 2014 Tajikistan announced the «Group 24» an «extremist organisation».

About 8:30 AM, 7 plain clothed men stormed into the house in Istanbul where Umarali lives with his family. They asked him to identify himself after which they lead away him and other three members of the «Group 24», who were in his house, without any explanation. His house was searched and appliances and a large number of documents relating to political activity of the leader were seized.

It later became known that Kuvatov was taken into custody by the agents of the Turkish Security Forces (Istanbul gayrettepe asayis sube mudurlugu hirsizlik buro amirligi) on the basis of an anonymous call. It is still not identified who or where the call came from. During his interrogation, Kuvatov leaned that his capture was relayed to the Embassy of Tajikistan in Turkey. The Consul offered to help Kuvatov, but he expressed his mistrust to the government of Rakhmon. The detainees are still not legally represented. A representative of the UNHCR has not appeared yet.
  
In a short while, the detainees will be transferred into a department of the Ministry of Home Affairs, because they found some irregularities in their registration in Turkey. These are administrative violations. According to Kuvatov, the Turkish Security Service agents are treating them in accordance with rules and they have not been accused of anything other than the registration irregularities. 

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia  — AHRCA calls on the Turkish authorities to fulfil their obligations under UN Convention on Status of Refugees UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to comply with the procedural rules of Turkish law, namely:

         — provide legal representation of the detained asylum seeker of the UNHCR Umarali Kuvatov three other citizens of Tajikistan: Hussein Ashurov, (01. 02. 1981г.), Sukhrob Turaev (24.11.1978г.), Abdurashid Khamidov (15.12.1989г.);

         — allow the UNHCR representative to meet the citizens of Tajikistan Hussein Ashurov, Sukhrob Turaev, Abdurashid Khamidov as they asked to meet him fill out an application for international protection; 

        — observe the principle of confidentiality in respect of the UNHCR applicants, in this case Umarali Kuvatov, in accordance with the obligations of Turkey under the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. 

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia  — AHRCA also sent its report about the detention of the leader of the "Group 24" Umarali Kuvatov and other participants: Hussein Ashurov, Sukhrob Turaev, Abdurashid Khamidov to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the office of UNHCR representative in Turkey and the head office of the UNHCR in Geneva, as well as international human rights organisations: HRW, "Amnesty International" and others