18.12.14

Uzbekistan: Probe Prison Death

(Paris, December 18, 2014) – The Uzbek government should free everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges under its Constitution Day amnesty, Human Rights Watch and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. The authorities should also carry out an effective investigation into the September 2014 death in custody of Nilufar Rahimjonova, a 37-year-old woman imprisoned on politically motivated charges, the groups said.

The Uzbek government has imprisoned thousands of people on politically motivated charges, including human rights and opposition activists, journalists, religious believers, artists, and other perceived critics. Some are in serious ill-health or have been tortured, and sentences for some were arbitrarily extended while they were in prison.

“The Uzbek government has imprisoned and tortured some of the world’s longest-held political activists, independent journalists, and other peaceful figures,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Uzbek government should use this opportunity to free all those who were wrongfully imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of basic rights, as well as those whose sentences have been arbitrarily extended.”
  • Constitution Day Amnesty
Following Constitution Day on December 7, Uzbek authorities announced an amnesty, potentially applicable to thousands of prisoners, over the next several months. As in past years, this year’s amnesty applies to those convicted of less serious offenses and to specific demographic categories such as women and prisoners over 60. But those imprisoned on politically motivated charges are rarely released even when they meet the criteria. Even if they are released, however, the amnesty’s terms leave the original unlawful convictions intact.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch documented that Uzbek authorities have used “violations of prison rules” as a pretext to add years to the sentences of at least 14 of 44 people convicted on politically motivated charges in recent years, and have used the same pretext widely in the cases of many others imprisoned on charges relating to religious extremism. Such violations are often very minor, such as possessing “unauthorized” nail clippers, saying prayers, and wearing a white shirt.

“Some of those wrongfully imprisoned, such as Muhammad Bekjanov, Akram Yuldashev, Murod Juraev, and Solijon Abdurakhmanov, are elderly or in ill-health,” said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. “The Uzbek government should widely apply its amnesty program so that they won’t lose even one more day behind bars.”

Among those imprisoned for no reason other than peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression are 14 human rights activists: Azam Farmonov, Mehriniso Hamdamova, Zulhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Kholdorov, Gaybullo Jalilov, Nuraddin Jumaniyazov, Matluba Kamilova, Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, Chuyan Mamatkulov, Zafarjon Rahimov, Yuldash Rasulov, Bobomurod Razzokov, Fahriddin Tillaev, and Akzam Turgunov.

Five more are journalists: Solijon Abdurakhmanov, Muhammad Bekjanov, Gayrat Mikhliboev, Yusuf Ruzimuradov, and Dilmurod Saidov. Four are opposition activists: Murod Juraev, Samandar Kukanov, Kudratbek Rasulov, and Rustam Usmanov. Three are independent religious figures: Ruhiddin Fahriddinov, Hayrullo Hamidov, and Akram Yuldashev.

Six others are perceived to be government critics, including Botirbek Eshkuziev, Bahrom Ibragimov, Davron Kabilov, Erkin Musaev, Davron Tojiev, and Ravshanbek Vafoev, and one, Dilorom Abdukodirova, was a witness to the May 13, 2005 Andijan massacre, when Uzbek government forces shot and killed hundreds of mainly peaceful protesters.

Uzbek authorities should order an immediate investigation of all allegations of mistreatment of prisoners held on politically motivated charges, allow for re-examination of the closed hearings in which political prisoners’ sentences have been extended, and grant all prisoners access to necessary medical care and family visits to which they are entitled under international human rights law, the human rights groups said.
  • Death in Custody of Nilufar Rahimjonova
Nilufar Rahimjonova
Rahimjonova died on September 12, 2014, in the Zangiota women’s prison colony outside Tashkent. She had served almost 3 years of a 10-year sentence. The apparently trumped-up charges against her – illegal border crossing and espionage – appeared to have been brought on the basis of her relationship to her father, Domullo Istaravshani, a well-known theologian, based in Tajikistan, and her husband, Sayidyunus Burkhanov, more commonly known as Sayidyunus Istaravshani, based in Iran.

Both are independent religious figures who have openly criticized the restrictions President Islam Karimov began placing on religious worship and the practice of Islam in Uzbekistan in the early 1990s.

Rahimjonova’s husband told Human Rights Watch that following her arrest in December 2011 in Tashkent, Rahimjonova was forced to give a TV interview in which she accused him and her father of being connected to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an organization designated as a terrorist organization by various states, including the United States, and other extremist groups. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison following a flawed trial, allegations of ill-treatment, and lack of access to counsel.

Istaravshani told Human Rights Watch that his wife did not suffer chronic illnesses or complain about her health. A close relative in Tashkent had visited her just two months before she died, and said there were no indications she was in poor health. Officials have not given the family a cause of death although, approximately one month after the death, Uzbek authorities handed a lawyer hired by the family a death certificate that stated Rahimjonova had hung herself.

Uzbek authorities delivered Rahimjonova’s body to her brother’s home in Tashkent. Istaravshani said her brother was ordered to “bury the body now,” leaving no opportunity to conduct a post-mortem examination.

When people are deprived of their liberty, responsibility for their fate rests with the detaining authorities, who must guarantee the life and physical integrity of each detainee. International human rights law requires governments to ensure effective investigations into deaths in custody – regardless of the presumed cause. Such investigations are essential for ascertaining the cause of death, identifying anyone responsible for the death, and holding them to account. These investigations also deter similar incidents in the future, ensure the security of other prisoners, and provide confidence in the authorities’ commitment to fulfilling their national and international obligations.

The next of kin also have a right to be informed of all the circumstances of the death, and to have access to an effective remedy if the death is the result of state culpability.

“My wife was in good health before she died and had four children to live for,” Istaravshani told Human Rights Watch. “What now can I do for my wife? All I can do now is to ensure that no other wives like her will have to die in prison and see to it that no one is locked up in Uzbekistan’s prisons without proof of actual wrongdoing.”

“Deaths under circumstances such as Rahimjonova’s are highly suspicious and need to be thoroughly and independently investigated,” Swerdlow said. “The Uzbek government should ensure that full and open investigations are conducted into all prison deaths and allow for regular, unfettered, independent, expert monitoring of prison conditions to help prevent such deaths in the future.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s recent report “Until the Very End‘’: Politically-Motivated Imprisonment in Uzbekistan.”


16.12.14

Uzbekistan: «traitors to the Motherland» are named

On 11 December 2014 in "Uzbekistan" TV channel a propaganda film titled  «Xiyonat», or "Betrayal" in translation from Uzbek, was broadcast. It featured individuals who applied for asylum in Norway asking for a refugee status. 

Norway most often deports citizens of Uzbekistan. It is a known fact that on their return to their country of origin, they are tortured and accused of perjury against Uzbekistan, forced to testify publicly against themselves, announced to be members of "extremist groups" and openly referred to as "traitors to the Motherland."

Below are the details of the deported citizens of Uzbekistan by Norway and a brief summary of the propaganda film. 
1. Asadulla Xayrullayevich RIXSIYEV, born in 1986, originally from Tashkent. He graduated from the Information Technology University in 2007. It is not indicated what he is accused of or how long he was sentenced to. According to the authors of the film, while in Norway, he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group”. In front of the camera, Rixsiyev stated that he met an Iranian man called Nadim who campaigned to support Muslims fighting the “infidels”. 

According to Rixsiyev, he came to Norway only to work and help his family financially. He said that he was met by unknown people and on their advice, he claimed asylum. He deceived the Norwegian immigration service. To obtain refugee status, Rixsiyev claimed that he was gay. The Criminal Code of Uzbekistan contains Article 120 which provides for punishment of up to three years of imprisonment for "Sodomy".
2. Zafar Salim ogli KARIMOV, born in 1985, originally from Tashkent. He has a diploma of higher education. It is not indicated what he is accused of or how long he is sentenced to. The authors of the film claim that he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group” in Norway. 

Karimov said he came to Norway to work. He was met by unknown people and was told to contact the immigration service and claim asylum in order to obtain a work permit. And they recommended to him to change his name.
3. Davron Axrolovich RAHMONOV, born in 1984 originally from Tashkent.  It is not indicated what he is accused of or how long he is sentenced to. The authors of the film claim that he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group” in Norway.

He came to Norway to work. He was met by unknown people and was advised to contact the immigration service claiming that in Uzbekistan, he was a gambler, lost a large sum of money, and if he retuned back, he "will be put on the blades." He had a fake passport in the name of another person, and used it to send home the money he earned.
4. Ahmadjon Muhammadjonovich XOLIQOV, born in 1980, originally from Tashkent. He is educated to a secondary level. It is not indicated what he is accused of or how long he is sentenced to. The authors of the film claim that he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group” in Norway.

He came to Norway to work. On the advice of the organisers of his visit, he told the immigration service that in Uzbekistan the authorities found 1.2 kilograms of drugs on him and he was threatened with arrest. According Xholiqov, he deceived the Norwegian authorities to obtain free housing and the right to work. When the Norwegian authorities found out that he had a false Romanian passport, he was arrested and deported 100 days later.
5. Shuhrat Qodirovich ILHOMOV, born in 1977, originally from Tashkent. He is married and has two children. Educated to secondary level. It is not indicated what he is accused of or how long he is sentenced to. The authors of the film claim that he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group” in Norway.

Ilhomov said that he travelled to Norway in order to earn money. On the advice of the people who helped him to travel to Norway, he deceived the immigration service. Ilhom claimed to be gay in order to be allowed to stay in Norway to work legally. 
6. Jahongir Qochqorovich TOJIYEV, born in 1984, originally from Tashkent. He is married and has two children. The authors of the film alleged that he became a member of an unnamed “religious extremist group” in Norway.

Like the other characters in the film, Tojiev came to Norway to work. He claimed asylum to be eligible to live and work legally in Norway. And he was sure that no one will know about it in Uzbekistan.

          • Summary of the content of the film

For 35 minutes, the filmmakers present their version of the story of 8 men who lived in Norway for a while. The characters in the film come to Norway to work, using the procedure provided by the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951. Six of them were convicted; their term of sentences was never specified. Two others say that they reported to the Uzbek law enforcement agencies about their arrival from Norway, the reasons for approaching the immigration service and what they were doing there. (All of them are ordinary citizens and do not have high-ranking patrons in a corrupt country).

The characters of the film claim that, only after returning home, they realized that they betrayed their homeland. In Norway, they did not work on Fridays and attended the mosque. From time to time, they gathered and watched movies found on the Internet about the suffering of Muslims in countries where there is war. That is why they transferred part of their earned money to support those Muslims.

All of them, in tears, repented and asked for forgiveness of the Uzbek people for the fact that they gave "false statements against Uzbekistan" in Norway, where they violated the Uzbek and Norwegian laws. And they "regret that mistakenly joined extremist organisations (none of the convicted specified which extremist organisation), and betrayed their homeland."

Ilhom Azamov and Temur Zoitov, characters of the film, claim that they learned about the above mentioned 6 men «took a wrong turn, and betrayed their country». Azamov and Zoitov lived in Norway too. They were in contact with the “traitors”. But, they returned to Uzbekistan on time. They turned themselves in, confessed their mistakes and reported the “traitors”. According to them, Uzbekistan is a “humane state and forgives repenting citizens”. They were forgiven and now they enjoy their freedom.

Authors of the film and the "experts" pathetically ask: why does Norway take in the "criminals", including the "extremists"? They do not understand why Norway has become a country which creates conditions nurturing religious extremist organisations. They are convinced that real criminals are going to Norway to obtain papers and then travel to Muslim countries. They even come back to Uzbekistan disguised as deportees in order to carry out “extremist activities” in their home turf. But, unlike Norwegian counterparts, “Uzbek authorities are able to prevent such crimes”. 

          • Results of our monitoring

According to our organisation, more than 18 deportees from Norway in 2014 are in custody and under investigation in Uzbekistan. It is very difficult to establish their real names, as almost all of them have distorted their names, date and place of birth. Often, applicants from Uzbekistan seek asylum on the second passport, which is produced in Uzbekistan at the request of the loss of the first one. In the second passport they indicate another transcription of their name or last name and thus obtain the documents of a foreign country under a different name. Often, using such a passport, Uzbek citizens obtain Russian citizenship. On the details of the Russian passport they obtain a visa to a European country. Then using Uzbek passport, they apply claim asylum. This practice is known to the immigration services of Western countries. Statistics show a large number of persons providing false information, a basis on which their application is rejected. Deportation cases occur more often.

Norway establishes the nationality of the applicant whose application for asylum was rejected by its Embassy in that country. In cases of citizens of Uzbekistan, it relies on the Embassy in Riga. Norwegian request for information is receved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Security Services. And as a citizen arrives from Norway, he is certainly detained at the airport by the Department of Transport of the Prosecutor's Office. Then he is questioned by counterintelligence officers of the National Security Services. During the interrogation, he is shown pictures of citizens living abroad for a long time, mostly religious or civil society activists. He may be also shown photos of protesters or political refugees.

Uzbek citizens seeking a job in Norway regularly enter the country with passports containing distorted names (as mentioned above). In Uzbekistan there is a group of swindlers who promise employment abroad. This business is working. Criminal chain is as follows: in Tashkent there is hub for client wishing to work in Norway. The customers are met by other crooks on arrival in the country of destination. They lead them to a refugee camp, after telling them how to deceive the immigration officers. In Norway, the business involves even the translators of the Immigration Service. The most of affected by this scam named someone called Nargiza (we could not establish her full name). Uzbek refugees tried several times to expose scams and Uzbek provocateurs in Norway. But the criminals learned about their intentions and threatened to inform the National Security Services of Uzbekistan about their exact location in Norway and the reasons for leaving the country. Given that the refugees have family member living in Uzbekistan including elderly parents, the investigation stopped.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA urges Norway to abide by the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and change the practice of working with refugees, namely:
               - Stop the forcible return of Uzbek nationals to their country of origin, where torture is systematically used and there is no independent judiciary;

               - Do not stamp with the Uzbek passport with a mark containing words “deportation”. Members of the Uzbek government bodies use this mark as an excuse to extort bribes from citizens of Uzbekistan, bringing charges of perjury against the state and "betrayal of the homeland";

               - Do not inform the Embassy of Uzbekistan about citizens who claimed asylum, even if their application is rejected, or it is proven that they violated the administrative order.

We urge to review all cases of applicants from Uzbekistan, in respect of whom the decision has been taken to deport them, especially if their details are already known to the Embassy of Uzbekistan. They are under a risk of torture.


The film "Betrayal" is accessible via the following link: 






2.12.14

Kyrgyzstan: attacks on ethnic Uzbeks are getting more frequent in Cheryomushki neighbourhood of the Osh city


After the publication on the situation of ethnic Uzbeks in the Southern Kyrgyzstan, local police stopped accepting complaints regarding aggressive incidents motivated by nationalism.

Further provocative attacks took place on 24-26 November 2014 in Cheryomushki neighbourhood of the city of Osh which is densely populated by ethnic Uzbeks. A group of 10-15 young people of the Kyrgyz appearance attacks the local population. The attackers disguise their names. The law enforcement officials see signs of beating, but refuse to consider complaints about manifestations of ethnic hatred and do not seek to identify aggressive nationalists.

The following situation is becoming a norm in the Cheryomushki neighbourhood:
     - There are taxi ramps near the “Kyrgyzia” cinema-house, where the drivers gather. There are some ethnic Uzbeks among the drivers, whose car windows often get smashed. The Uzbek drivers are often forced to provide a free lift or give away their vodka;
      - Pedestrians – ethnic Uzbeks – are often mugged. For example, a passer-by was deprived of his mink hat, with shouting: "Death to Sarts!”

The local inspector of the Ak-Burinskiy district received the victims in the bases 42 and 43. Instead of making a complaint, they were asked to provide an explanatory letter in the Kyrgyz language. Then they were asked to provide money to buy petrol for the police to get to the location of the incident to investigate.

Of those convicted for events of June 2010, 530 people were sentenced under Article 299 of the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan (Inciting national, racial, religious or interregional hatred). All of them are ethnic Uzbeks. Last sentence was handed down on 23 October 2014 against Karamat Abdullaeva, the executive secretary of the Republican Uzbek National Centre. She was tried in absentia and sentenced to imprisonment for 16 years and confiscation of all her property.

In cases where the victim of nationalism gave up all his property as a bribe, a criminal case against him was dropped and replaced by an administrative offense - disorderly conduct.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia is concerned that ethnic Uzbeks in Southern Kyrgyzstan are not protected from criminal attacks at all. And that is why now they ask not to be identified by their names in our reports. Lack of trust in justice and the arbitrary context put them on the brink of survival.



1.12.14

Russia: an attempt on the life of a member of the Tajik opposition Maksud Ibragimov

On 26 November 2014, in Moscow, around 22:50, a member of the Tajik opposition Maksud Ibragimov received six stab wounds. The attack took place in the Tsaritsyno Southern administrative district of the capital, on Sevan Street. There were two assailants, they disappeared.

Maksud Ibragimov is at the Institute of Emergency Medicine named after Sklifosovsky. The first five days, doctors assessed his health, as serious. Now he is able to moves independently. The Moscow police guard his ward, even his relatives are not allowed to see him.

Maksud Ibragimov
Maksud Ibragimov was born on 3 November 1977 in Dushanbe; he has a dual citizenship of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation.

He is married and has three children. He has been living in Russia for over 15 years.

He is a founder and the Chairman of the Russian Youth Public Organisation titled “Youth of Tajikistan for the Revival of Tajikistan”. He is a member of the Supervisory Council of “New Tajikistan” the Opposition Coalition. A year ago, he started his active political public role. He gave many interviews in the media criticising the government of Tajikistan.

The attempt occurred near the place of Maksud Ibragimov’s residence. A Makarov pistol with a silencer was found at the crime scene. The assassins could not shoot because the fuse jammed. Ibragimov received six stab wounds, including three in his arm. Eyewitnesses claim that the assailants disappeared behind a house located on Sevan Street, and escaped in a foreign vehicle. None of the personal belongings of the victim was missing. Most likely, the crime was not committed with intent to rob.

A day before the assassination, at the Tsaritsyno District Department of the Ministry of Interior, Maksud Ibrahimov submitted a complaint about the threats against him by members of the Tajik law enforcement agencies. Ibragimov’s report was ignored even after Russia received a request for his extradition from the General Prosecutor of Tajikistan.
On 9 October 2014 Maksud Ibragimov was arrested in Moscow on the basis of an extradition request of Tajikistan which placed him in the international wanted list. Russia rejected this request, and on 11 October Ibragimov was released from custody.

Once M. Ibragimov announced that he has become a leader of an opposition organisation, the authorities began to exert pressure through his relatives living in Tajikistan. In addition, he received calls with threats of arrest, demanding to end his political activity. Ibragimov was also offered to return to Tajikistan and promised his safety. Over the last six months, such calls were particularly frequent.

The assassination attempt on Maksud Ibragimov caused panic among the citizens of Tajikistan living in Russia. Tajik migrants have become more serious about telephone threats.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia expresses concern about the attempt on Maksud Ibragimov. We call on Russia to provide legal protection to citizens of Tajikistan residing in its territory, who are threatened by Tajik law enforcement agencies.

24.11.14

«Corruption and Human Rights»

This is the title of the conference to be held in Geneva on 26-27 November. An organiser of the conference is the Centre for Civil and Political Rights based in Geneva. It will bring together civil society activists from different countries. On behalf of the Uzbek community Nadejda Atayeva, President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia will make a speech. The delegation is also represented by Farhodhon Mukhtarov, a representative of the "Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan", and Umida Niyazova, the head of "Uzbek-German Forum".

On the eve of the conference, I would like to share my observations about who in Uzbekistan has become a source of corruption and the place the civil society should take in this process.

* * *

A citizen of Uzbekistan is in the custody of a prison in Dubai. In the Uzbek business elite circles, until recently, his name, Aleksey Yaitsky, was whispered enthusiastically. This is a major businessman, close to the powerful Tatyana Karimova, the wife of the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. He was paid this high respect for the fact that he was able to win her confidence. According to some reports, he was able to become a leading figure in a successful company "Abusahiy." This is a private enterprise, a monopoly in the field of freight transport with a profit of up to 20 million USD per month. Abusahiy’s cash flow is under a full control of Kamal Tillaev, a brother of Timur Tillaev who is the husband of Lola Karimova, the youngest daughter of Islam Karimov.

Yaitsky is accused of an attempt to bribe an official. According to information from his inner circle, his bank account in the UAE revealed 10 million USD. The origin of this amount will have to be explained. Typically, these offenders serve their sentences in the UAE; they are not handed over to the authorities of the country of origin. Uzbekistan did not request him. But the Attorney General's Office of Uzbekistan has to ask how such amount of funds was formed abroad in the account of an Uzbek citizen.

Yaitsky’s magical opportunities ended unexpectedly for himself and his inner circle, not in London, where his family had settled in the neighbourhood with Lola Karimova, but in Dubai, where there is a representative office of Abusahy is located and where he has extensive links and long-time business experience.

It is proving not possible to bail Aleksey Yaitsky out of the Dubai jail even with surety. It turned out, Tatyana Karimova, Lola Karimova and a criminal authority, Yaitsky’s tennis partner Salimbay Abduvaliev can not influence the Prosecutor of UAE.

They only managed to hide the fact of Yaitsky’s arrest for a little longer than a month. The silence was broken by the Radio "Ozodlik" [Freedom]. Now in Uzbekistan the questions being discussed are: how will this affect the activity of Abusahy and what will become of Yaitsky after he returns to Uzbekistan. First, his case was discussed only "in the kitchens" and in social networks, but it has already received the media’s attention. Discussions of this type of cases are signals of civil society that Islam Karimov and his entourage will have to answer for the widespread abuse of power that gives rise to a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens.

Exceptional opportunities enjoyed by the Karimov family, including their close relatives and inner circle is a very hot topic. For example, the arrest of Yaitsky concerns all who need transportation services, and this is a huge army of entrepreneurs specialising in the retail trade, export and import.

A significant part of the business in Uzbekistan depended on Gulnara Karimova, on cooperation with her and companies directly or indirectly controlled by her. Therefore, the scandal surrounding her operations turned out so loud. Thousands of people were out of work. Layoffs in the Swedish company TeliaSonera still continue. Some aides of Gulnara Karimova are in jail in Uzbekistan and others in exile and are trying to present themselves as dissidents.

In Uzbekistan, a group of very powerful oligarchs, nurtured by family members of Islam Karimov came to existence. At this stage of the Karimov regime it is clearly visible as they compete with each other, interacting with the National Security Service and senior officials. They are allowed to patronise other entrepreneurs and investors, to be mediators between Tatyana Karimova and her youngest daughter Lola Karimova. These two ladies are quite influential. These days one can survive in the Uzbek market only on their terms. These conditions are detrimental to private entrepreneurs who settled in Uzbekistan and abroad. In its activities, the Karimov family uses the weaknesses of the tax and customs legislation and it is dependent on the executive judicial system. Anyone can be robbed by the ruling clan. Defending their personal interests, the oligarchs close to the family of Islam Karimov violate human rights. By the will of the Karimov family members people are kidnapped, entrepreneurs are ruined, they are charged on fabricate cases and on behalf of public authorities sent to jail.

In the entre history, Uzbek officials were never as rich as they are now. No one asks about the origin of the funds they spend on construction and purchase of expensive real estate in Uzbekistan and abroad. They control the supply of goods and services to the domestic market in exchange for a considerable percentage of income in the form of bribes and money sent offshore.

The country where the authorities keep prices for basic foods fixed and hinder the competition, there will always be corruption.

Uzbek citizens have the right to know all the details of activity of the "Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan" foundation, which has been under the patronage of Gulnara Karimova for over 10 years. And every citizen has the right to know what taxes Abusahy pays, because many companies were affected by the systematic abuse of power by the brothers Sharifhodzhaevs, the National Security Service of Uzbekistan. Why Khayot Sharifhodzhaev still holds the post of first deputy chairman of the National Security Service of Uzbekistan? Did they not find evidence of his crimes? Or is it the case that the corrupt elite do not touch Sharifhodzhaev fearing revelations on his part?

If the government is not accountable to the public and the decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers contain secret items on benefits for businesses which serve as trough for senior officials, corruption will not disappear.

The scandal surrounding the illegal proceeds of Gulnara Karimova is remarkable. On the one hand, it revealed the collusion of senior officials and the first family of the country. And on the other hand, it gives the Uzbek civil society the chance to direct the funds Gulnara concentrated abroad to pay for compensation for victims of human rights violations. And this process depends largely on the position of civil society in Uzbekistan.


Nadejda Atayeva


10.11.14

Access to the CA-News.org portal is blocked by the internet providers of Kazakhstan


The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia received a complaint about blocking of access to the CA-News.org portal in Kazakhstan.

Since July 2014 internet users of Almaty, Astana, Karaganda and other cities of Kazakhstan do not have a direct access to this internet portal; they have to use web-proxy services.

According to observations most of the providers such as Kazakhtelecom, Beeline-Kazakstan and others are blocking access to this portal.

CA-News.org was created in 2007. A network of reporters from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan post 150-200 messages every day. This online publication covers new from 5 Central Asian countries raising sensitive and relevant topics. In the region with the population of 65 million, the web portal has about 400 thousand readers most of whom are in Kazakhstan..

The representatives of the providers and state institutions did not provide official explanations of the reasons for blocking  the access.

Freedom of expression and creation is guaranteed. Censorship is prohibited” – states the Constitution of Kazakhstan. – Everyone has a right to free access and circulation of information in any manner not prohibited by law”.

Jodgor Obid, a Vice-President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia notes: "Central Asian providers systematically block access to web-sites which publish materials containing criticism of authorities. This practice can be overcome only by active involvement of international observers and community of journalists. It is important to provide not only technical support for the non-censored media, but also show public solidarity with them. Each of us needs to protect and exercise the right to freedom of expression of opinion and access reliable information".

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia calls on the government of Kazakhstan to protect Constitutional rights of it citizens fulfil its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

If you would like to post to show your solidarity, you can send you message to: news@ca-news.org, canews@asia.com

6.11.14

France-Uzbekistan: Secret meeting between French and Uzbek Foreign Affairs ministers

ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)/ Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - Press release

Today and tomorrow, the Uzbek Minister of Foreign Affairs should meet discreetly Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well French Senate and National Assembly members. ACAT and the Associationfor Human Rights in Central Asia express their surprise and deep concern regarding this secret meeting with the high representative of a regime in which torture is systematically used.

No information has been released on the official agenda of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, or on the other French political institutions’. ACAT and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia found out about this meeting only on the official agenda of the Uzbek Ministry. It reveals that an Uzbek delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov should meet his French counterpart, some members of the Senate and the National Assembly, as well as business representatives. Only International Medef, the French Business Confederation, announced this meeting.

According to Christine Laroque, Asia-Central Asia-Russia desk manager at ACAT, “The Uzbek dignitaries are rightly shunned by most western leaders. It is surprising and shocking that the highest French institutions organize today, in secret, such meetings. The silence surrounding this visit shows their political embarrassment as well as a clear lack of transparency from the political power to the civil society.

According to Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, “Since Islam Karimov becam head of State 25 years ago, the Uzbek government is one of the worst torture and repressive regimes in the world. Torture is systematic in police custody and in prisons.” The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) severely criticized Uzbekistan last year.

Dozens of human rights defenders, journalists and peaceful activists are held on politically-motivated grounds. Thousands of people are locked up simply for practicing their religion - Christians as well as
Muslims.

In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stopped visiting prisoners in Uzbekistan because the government refuses to cooperate with ICRC standard procedures. Over the last 12 years, every United Nations expert has been denied access to the country to monitor the human rights situation. No international NGO is allowed since the expulsion of Human Rights Watch in 2011.

Uzbek activists take high risks to defend human rights, sometimes until death, like Abdurasul Hudoynazarov, a prisoner who was supported by ACAT for a long time. This activist, well-known for his work against corruption of police officers and security forces, spent 8 years in prison suffering from torture. Deprived of medical treatment and submitted to repeated abuses, his health severely deteriorated. He was released last May for medical grounds, before dying a few weeks later, on June 26th, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Since 2005, no independent investigation has been conducted and no one has been held accountable for the Andijan massacre, in which the security forces shot into crowds of mostly peaceful protestors, killing hundreds in that city. As a consequence, France along with other European Union (EU) countries put targeted sanctions on the Uzbek government between 2005 and 2009 that were linked  to improvements and respect of specific human rights criteria.

ACAT and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia consider that such meetings involving economic negotiations and potentially strategic and military cooperation with French authorities should take place only when the Uzbek government will have proved credible evidence of its real intention to comply with human rights. ACAT and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia urge French authorities at least to use this opportunity to express publicly and directly to the Uzbek Minister France’s concerns regarding the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

Contacts presse:
• Pierre Motin, ACAT, +33 1 40 40 40 24 / +33 6 12 12 63 94, pierre.motin@acatfrance.fr
(English, French);
• Nadejda Atayeva, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, +33 6 49 38 86 59, asiecentrale@neuf.fr (Russian)