The anti-constitutional Presidency оf Islam Karimov has begun

Presidential elections were held on December 23 in Uzbekistan, as a result of which Islam Karimov remained in power for a third term. This contradicts the constitution of the country. The Association of “Human Rights in Central Asia” expresses its concern with respect to the position of some international organizations and democratic countries that have congratulated Islam Karimov on his re-election. The Presidential election cannot be called free and democratic because the citizens of Uzbekistan had been under undue pressure throughout the whole election campaign and during the voting. The international community should provide an objective evaluation of the legal status of Islam Karimov.

 The election campaign of the President of Uzbekistan has demonstrated a mass violation of political rights

The right to stand for election. Article 90 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan restricts the tenure of the President to two terms. From a legal point of view, the election of Islam Karimov for a third term could be classified as an unconstitutional seizure of power in accordance with Article 159 of the Penal Code (infringement of the constitutional order of the Republic of Uzbekistan).

The second presidential term of Mr. Karimov lasted from January 2000 to December 2007, that is, eight years instead of seven as prescribed by the Constitution. Karimov has demonstrated the ability to exploit the legal contradictions of national legislation and the imperfection of the current Constitution, which does not provide for an impeachment procedure for the President. Since amendments to the Constitution on Presidential elections can only be passed by referendum,  and as the Parliament does not have such powers, the rule of Islam Karimov since January 2007 is illegal.

All alternative candidates supported the political course of their main opponent, Mr. Karimov.  During the election campaign none of them actively positioned themselves as contenders for the presidency.  Thus we can assume that the participation of alternative candidates was staged by the government so as to give a democratic aspect to the re-election of Islam Karimov.

Turnout at the polling stations. Some citizens explain their participation in the election by saying that prior to election day, government representatives had visited them to conduct a preliminary conversation about the importance of their participation in the presidential election. A considerable number of citizens were outside the country as labour migrants. They did not have an opportunity to participate in the elections.

The nomination procedures of candidates for the presidency. The law currently stipulates that in order to register with the Election Commission, political parties and initiative groups of citizens need to collect signatures of at least 5% of the total number of the people eligible to vote. These signatures must be proportionally represented in all regions including Karakalpakstan. In quantitative terms, each potential candidate must collect over 815 thousand signatures. During the period from October 19 to November 9, the CEC registered four candidates for the presidency, who ostensibly fulfilled this condition, but at the moment it is impossible to verify the authenticity of signatures. The Limited Election Observation Mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE continues to examine the issue of collecting signatures and verifying them by the CEC.

Mr. Abdullo Tojiboy-ugly, Mr. Jahongir Shosalimov, Mr. Akhtam Shaymardanov attempted to register with the Election Commission as independent candidates for the presidency.

Their statements to the CEC went unanswered, which proves a selective approach to candidates. Candidates from opposition parties also have been excluded from the election.

Freedom to express political views. There is no pluralism of opinions in Uzbekistan. The political and other spheres of public life in the country are monopolized by authoritarian power. Mass media channels are subordinated to the regime. Internet access is systematically blocked. The population has access only to the information aimed at supporting the current regime, while any expression of dissent is punishable. Civil society institutions are crushed. All the registered political parties support Mr. Karimov; even alternative candidates openly support the political direction of president Karimov.
There is no system of checks and balances present within the branches of government. The government skillfully instrumentalizes the presence of international observers for the purposes of spreading propaganda through the national mass media about the supposed adherence to democratic norms. Any critical reporting on the elections is either silenced or ignored. Meetings with western politicians are used to support the image of Islam Karimov as a respected politician.

Uzbekistan is a severely authoritarian country in the region. International organizations note systematic human rights abuse and absence of democratic development. While the EU sanctions in response to the refusal of the Uzbek authorities to allow an international investigation into the Andijan tragedy of May 13, 2005 are formally still active, they are currently temporarily suspended. And this while the findings of the UN Committee against Torture (November, 2007), the OSCE interim report on the presidential electionin Uzbekistan (December, 2007) confirm a deterioration of the situation in regard to civil and political rights.

The congratulations of the UN Secretary-General Pan Gi Mun, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer,  of Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Affairs Minister of Slovenia currently holding the Presidency of the European Union, the Director General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura, the Secretary-General of OSCE Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, the Federal President of Germany Horst Keller addressed to Islam Karimov in connection with his election for a third term as President of Uzbekistan are openly supporting his illegal stay in power.

The Association of "Human Rights in Central Asia" considers that the presidential elections held in December, 2007 are in contradiction with the country’s Constitution. By collaborating with Karimov, respected international organizations and institutions, created to protect and develop democracy in the world, are working towards strengthening the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan, in direct contradiction to their mission. This undermines their respectability. Based on the constitutional principles of Uzbekistan and international agreements on human rights, the Association calls on the international community to provide an objective evaluation of the legal status of Islam Karimov.


Life and safety of the Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma and his family is under threat

Yusuf JUMA
We are writing to you to express our serious concern about life and security of a prominent Uzbek poet, Yusuf Juma and his family.  

On December 10, 2007, armed men from the Uzbek state security service stormed his house and caused substantial damage to his property. He, himself, and his family members managed to avoid arrest. However, on December 17, 2007, Yusuf Juma and his son Bobur Jumaev were arrested by the Uzbek law enforcement agents. On December 22, 2007 they were transferred to Otobozor prison in Bukhara region.

Such actions of the Uzbek authorities are meant to intimidate the public and to impose a sense of fear in people to prevent further protests against the re-election of the incumbent president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov for the third term.

Yusuf Juma is one of Uzbekistan’s most prominent and respected poets, whose talent and courage became a source of inspiration for many Uzbeks. He exposed dictatorial regime and its cruelty in his pamphlets and poems and that what has made him one of the most dangerous people for the regime.

Born in 1958 in the Karakul region of Bukhara province, he graduated from the Bukhara Pedagogical Institute. In 1984 his first collection of poems, The Gold Apple of Truth, was published to great acclaim. In the early 1990s he became an active member of the opposition movement Birlik. Since that time he has been subjected to harassment by the authorities, and his poems have been banned from publication in Uzbekistan. In 2001 he was accused of “insulting the President of Uzbekistan” (article 159 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan) and was given three-year conditional prison sentence. 

On December 6, 2007, Yusuf Juma and two of his sons began a series of small demonstrations in their home region of Karakul, Bukhara province, calling for the resignation of Uzbekistan’s incumbent president, Islam Karimov. They have applied for permission to hold pickets to the local authorities. For several days they protested in various areas of the town, and then on December 10 they moved their picket to the main bus stop in the centre of Karakul town. This time there was a severe reaction. Juma and his sons were beaten by a group of policemen and forced to end their protest action.

Early on that same evening, the home of Yusuf Juma was stormed by Uzbek security operatives.  Shooting indiscriminately, they destroyed everything, which was on their way. Poet’s archive and library, property possessions was destroyed. Heavily armed security forces killed two family dogs as well as some other farm animals belonging to the family. Poet’s daughter was arrested and nothing is known about her whereabouts.

Having avoided arrest or murder on December 10, Juma and part of his family went into hiding.  On December 19, Yusuf Juma and his son, Bobur Jumaev were arrested at the house of Mukhiddin Akramkhodjaev, an activist of Birdamlik civic movement in Tashkent region. Presently both of them are in Otobozor prison in Bukhara region. According to local human rights defenders they are being denied access to lawyer.

Other members of Yusuf Juma’s family have also been targeted. On December 4, 2007, another of his sons, Mashrab Jumaev, was arrested on a charge of rape. The alleged rape victim has since then given a statement saying that police officers forced her to make this false claim. However, Mashrab Jumaev remains in detention. He is now accused of violating Article 159 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (public statements calling to unconstitutional change of the existing state order, assumption of power, or removal of legally elected authorities from power, or to unconstitutional impairment of integrity of the territory of Uzbekistan as well as dissemination of materials containing such statements).

In autumn of 2007, the local prosecutor launched a criminal case against Yusuf Juma’s wife, Gulnora Oltieva, on a charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional regime of Uzbekistan.” Her supposed crime was to offer support to the workers of a local factory, who refused to sign a petition in support of Islam Karimov’s re-election to the presidency.

For many years, the government of Uzbekistan has been trying to silence its critics. The attack on the house of the Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma demonstrates clearly how the current regime is willing to use force against peaceful protestors. The conciliatory approach of the EU and the USA in responding to the Andijan massacre of May 13, 2005 has reinforced the repressive machine of the Uzbek government and encouraged the cynical liquidation of those brave enough to stand up to the regime. We believe that the murder of the Kyrgyz journalist Alisher Saipov on October 24, 2007 in the city of Osh is an example of new methods being employed by the Uzbek authorities to silence their opponents. Using force against the family of Yusuf Juma is another act of violence, and this behaviour will continue until the international community deplores such actions.

The case of Yusuf Juma requires urgent attention and intervention of the international community

We appeal to the international community, as represented by the recipients of this petition, to work immediately and assertively to apply pressure on the government of Uzbekistan:

  • to provide information about whereabouts of Yusuf Juma and members of his family;
  • to render humane treatment to arrested Yusuf Juma and members of his family, who are under detention;
  • to allow access of lawyer to Yusuf Juma and other arrested members of his family in prison;
  • to demand their immediate release from detention;
  • to stop persecution of the family members and relatives of Yusuf Juma and provide protection to the family of Yusuf Juma and their relatives.
 We attach to this appeal poem dedicated to massacre in the city of Andijan on May 13, 2005.


Jodgor OBID
Uzbek poet, member of the International PEN club, Austria, jodgor.obid@gmx.at

Writer, UK

Chairman, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan, Sweden

Suleymon MUROD
Regional co-ordinator. ERK Democratic Party in USA and Canada

Jahongir MAMATOV
Chairman, Congress of Democratic Forces of Uzbekistan, USA

Abdujalil  BOYMATOV
Member, Secretariat of the Society for Human Rights in Uzbekistan, Ireland

Shahida YAKUB
Director, Uzbekistan Initiative London. UK, uil@uzbekistaninitiative.com

Director, Programme on Monitoring of Human Rights in Central Asia, Russia

President, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, France asiecentrale@neuf.fr

Sheenagh PUGH
Writer, UK

Writer, UK

PhD on philology, professor of Gratz State University, Austria

Director, Bureau on Family Issues “Social Integration Initiative”, Austria

Chairman, “Memorial” Human Rights Society of Russia, Russia

Valentin GEFTER
Director, Human Rights Institute, Russia

Journalist, correspondent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Czech Republic

Humanities bibliographer, poet, Germane

Poet, USA

Writer, France

Former Chairman of Ferghana region branch of “Ezgulik” human rights society, Sweden

Representative, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, USA

Bernhard KLASEN
Representative, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Germany

Foreign Office of United Opposition of Kazakhstan, Germany

Nurmukhammad KHANAMOV
Chairman, Republican Party “Turkmenistan”, Austria

Director, Human Rights Centre, Azerbaijan

Former prisoner of conscious, Chairman of Human Rights Organisation DEVAMM, imam of Baku “Juma” mosque, Azerbaijan

Chairwoman, Society for Protection of Oilmen of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan

Director of "Democracy Monitor" Public Union, Azerbaijan

Director, Kazakh Community Association in Poland, Poland

Chairman Vietnam Reform Party, USA

Director, Public Foundation “Ar.Rukh.Khak”, Kazakhstan

Elizabeth PLEBANI
RTV reporter, Media Terra Productions, Netherlands

Representative, Uzbekistan Initiative-USA, USA

Maksud BEKJAN,
Uzbek poet, Norway

Nosir ZOKIR,
Head of Namangan region bureau of Birlik party, Uzbekistan

Representative of the Society of Human Rights in Uzbekistan in Namangan region, Uzbekistan