Appeal of the human rights activists to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

 President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev 
Mr. President Aliyev,

We are concerned about the ongoing persecution of human rights activists, the founders of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Azerbaijan Leyla and Arif Yunusov.

We know, from a reliable source, that their right to free movement is being limited. On 28 April, the human rights activists were arrested at the airport, they were going to take a fly to attend an international conference. Leyla Yunusova was kept under police surveillance for 26 hours. Police actions can be described as cruel and degrading treatment contrary to Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Their passports were illegally confiscated, their home and office were raided, access to their personal bank accounts is blocked, they are under a total control; the pressure extends to their families and staff of the Institute for Peace and Democracy. All application to the Court for the restoration of law and their rights are rejected.

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, 

These illegal actions have led to a deterioration of health of Leyla and Arif Yunusov. Moreover, lack of access to bank accounts is limiting their right to health care. All of this is causing an irreversible harm to their health and is threatening their lives. On 28 April 2014, Arif Yunusov was taken to the intensive care unit. He spent three weeks in hospital and still is in need of outpatient treatment. Leyla Yunusova suffers from diabetes.

Persecution of human rights activists violates the rules of law and morality. The Yunusovs did not breach the law, they were not charged with any crime.
Leyla Yunus
Chevalier of Legion of Honour of France
Winner of the Teodora Hacker International Prize 
Director of the Institute for Peace 
and Democracy of Azerbaijan

We regard their persecution as a revenge for their human rights activism.

On 30 May 2014, a threat to arrest Leyla Yunusova was renewed. The press service of the Prosecutor General's Office issued an unfounded statement that Yunusov is supposedly hindering the investigators. She fears criminal prosecution.

We urge you, as a guarantor of human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan, to do everything to stop the arbitrariness of law enforcement agencies.

We call upon you to treat this appeal with all seriousness.


Jodgor Obid,
poet, member of the International PEN Club, Austria

Nadejda Atayeva,
President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, France

Dilorom Iskhakova,
Representative of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Uzbekistan

Dmitry Belomestnov,
representative of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Russia

Sergey Ignatyev,
representative of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, USA

Bahytzhan Toregojina,
President of the Public Fund "Ar.Rukh.Khak" Kazakhstan

Tolekan Ismailova,
Human Rights Movement "Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan"

Ruslan Maytanov,
freelance journalist from Kazakhstan

Akhunov Vyacheslav,
artist, Uzbekistan

Galim Ageleuov,
President of the Public Fund "Liberty", Kazakhstan

Aygul Bekjan,
human rights activist, USA

Mirakhmat Muminov,
member of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, USA

Dilya Erkinzoda,
human rights activist, Uzbekistan

Tashpulat Yuldashev
political scientist, United States

Javlon Mirzahadzhaev,
ex-owner of Mezon-TV, Co-Chairman  of NGO Fund "Our Children"
the City of Osh Kyrgyz Republic, Switzerland

Ismail Dadadjanov,
Chairman of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan,
Member of the Central Council of the "Birlik", Sweden

Umida Akhmedova,
Uzbek documentary filmmaker and photographer
member of the Union of Cinematographers of Uzbekistan
and the National Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan

Dr.Leyla Aliyeva
President of the Center for National and International Studies
Baku, Azerbaijan

Emil Adelkhanov,
The Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, Georgia

Genghis Sultansoy
freelance writer, journalist and screenwriter.
Winner of a journalism award «Media açarı» 2004 and 2009. Azerbaijan

Oleksy Tolkachev
President of the European Association of Ukrainians

Roman Mamytov,
Representative of the People's Movement "Alga Karakalpakstan," the Republic of Karakalpakstan

Farhodhon Mukhtarov
member of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan - PAHs, Netherlands

Mubarak Sharipov
sociologist, Independent Consultant for Central Asia expert of the Association "Human Rights in Central Asia", Denmark

ya Inoyatova
Chairman of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan "Ezgulik", Uzbekistan

Salomatoy Boymatova,
member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Ireland

Oynihol Bobonazarova,
Chairman of Public Association "Perspective +" Tajikistan

Alisher Ilkhamov
Researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, UK

Bashorat Eshova,
representative of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Switzerland

Ulugbek Khaidarov,
freelance journalist, editor of the "Registan" supplement of  the "Vancouver Express", Canada

Ravshan Gapirov,
Director of the Human Rights Centre "Justice, Truth", Kyrgyzstan

Kamoliddin Rabimov,
political scientist, France

Umarali Kuvatov,
leader of the opposition, "G-24", Tajikistan

Dododzhon Atoulloev,
leader of the opposition movement "Vatandor" Tajikistan

Alisher Taksanov,
freelance journalist, Switzerland

Yuri Jibladze,
President of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Russia

Nana Nazarova
Society for Harmonious Development of Human, Georgia

Maxim Nazirov
President of the Association of Friendship Temurids France

Rysbek Adamaliev,
Center for the Protection of Human Rights "Kylym Shamy", Kyrgyzstan

Vyacheslav Mamedov
Chairman of the Democratic Civil Union of Turkmenistan


Concerns About World Bank Loans to the Agriculture Sector of Uzbekistan

Dear Dr. Kim,

We write to share with you our serious concerns about two proposed new agricultural sector loans to Uzbekistan, the South Karakalpakstan Water Resource Management Improvement Project (P127764) and the Horticulture Development Project (P133703). Given the real possibility that funding under the new projects could support the Uzbek government’s forced labor system of cotton production we strongly urge you to postpone consideration of these loans until the Uzbek government takes concrete steps to end its use of forced labor.

The mass use of forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan is particularly pernicious in that it is organized by the state. The World Bank acknowledges this problem in project documents for each of the proposed projects.  Moreover, in a report issued on the existing RESP II project in December 2013, the Inspection Panel wrote that: “the Bank’s support [for a loan for the modernization and diversification of Uzbekistan’s agriculture sector] may be contributing to a perpetuation of the alleged harm [of forced labor].”

In Uzbekistan, farmers who produce cotton are subject to a state order system of forced labor. The Uzbek government owns all land and coerces farmers to produce annual quotas of cotton. Farmers must sell the cotton at state-established, artificially low procurement prices. If farmers fail to meet the government-mandated quota for cotton production, they risk losing their lease to farm the land, criminal charges and physical abuse.  The government also forcibly mobilizes 16-17 year-old students, university students, teachers, health-care and other public-sector workers, private-sector workers and pensioners to harvest cotton each fall. Uzbek activists who monitored the harvest in 2013 noted no major changes in the state order system, the forced labor of farmers to cultivate cotton, or the massive government mobilization of forced labor to pick cotton. Although only mandated to monitor child labor and despite severe restrictions placed on monitors, the ILO recognized that cotton is produced in a forced labor system.

Please see attached details of our concerns about the Bank’s proposed projects. We appreciate your attention to this matter and would be pleased to meet with you and your staff to discuss our concerns regarding these projects.


Cotton Campaign:
Advocates for Public Interest Law
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
American Federation of Teachers
Anti-Slavery International
Association for Human Rights in Central Asia
Bank Information Center
Boston Common Asset Management
Calvert Investments
CEE Bankwatch Network
Dignity Health
The Eurasian Transition Group, e.V.
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
International Labor Rights Forum
Open Society Foundations
Responsible Sourcing Network
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Solidarity Center
Stop the Traffik
Sunshine Coalition
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights
Walk Free

World Bank Vice President for ECA
World Bank Board of Executive Directors


Statement of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia about online publications on the "Uznews.net" website

On 16 May 2014 three articles were published on the website "Uznews.net" in relation to the position of our organisation and its members: Nadejda Atayeva and Jodgor Obid and their statement about the health of Uzbek activist Malokhat Eshankulova.

Our statement attacked a provocative response from the opponents, which was followed by a wave of anonymous slander against us. We do not rule out that the purpose of this campaign was to discredit our work in the field of human rights. In this regard, we sought opinion of independent experts. We will publish their conclusion as soon as we receive them.

We are especially grateful to all those who wrote to us these days the words of support and confirmed their confidence in us and our work.

Sincerely yours,

Members of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia

Articles published at Uznew.net on 16 May 2014 referring to Nadejda Atayeva, Jodgor Obid and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia

The Association of Human Rights in Central Asia asked to apologize for slander 

Nadezhda Ataeva: Prove you have earned compassion not slander


Comment on the statement by the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan

On 15 May 2013 the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia received a statement of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan on the state of health of Uzbek activist Malokhat Eshankulova. Previously, on 27 March 2013, a journalist Ms Bukharbayeva and she appealed to public for support in obtaining medical care for Eshankulova.

Our organisation considered this application contacted Malokhat Eshankulova via our representative to learn about her state of health and to facilitate her access to a doctor. She said that she was going to undergo a treatment with a healer of Turkish origin. At that point, our organisation made a statement regarding her story that Malokhat Eshankulova was poisoned, we stand by our statement which is as follows:

1) In March of this year, Malokhat Eshankulova publicly stated that she feels unwell since December 2013, she lost considerable weight. But she still has not undergone a medical examination. With the support and sponsorship of colleagues (Union of Real Journalists of Uzbekistan), Eshankulova preferred to have a treatment of healers, and it is her rightful choice. However, if she was to choose to have a medical examination, but does not trust the Uzbek doctors, there is nothing that prevents her from contacting doctors in Kazakhstan or Russia;

2) Lack of medical certification of the state of health prevents us from concluding that Eshankulova was poisoned by Uzbek authorities;

3) Her reproaches and demands of medical assistance aimed at diplomatic missions of democratic countries in Uzbekistan continue even after it became known that the American clinic provides services only to U.S. citizens and green card holders. Besides, on 6 April, Eshankulova stated that the U.S. diplomats had a meeting with her which lasted for over an hour. According to her, she was advised to call an ambulance or go to the Sappho TIBBIYOT” medical centre in Tashkent, where professionals provide services to all who come to them. According to our colleagues in Uzbekistan while visiting the medical centre, one does not even have to show his passport - you only pay for the services. Malokhat Eshankulova has a sponsor, so she can easily get medical help.

Authors of the above mentioned should pay attention to the fact that, because we are not doctors, we have not tried and do not attempt to certify the status of health of Malokhat Eshankulova.

We are convinced that in the current situation Eshankulova should consult a doctor of her choice and undergo a thorough examination. If the story of her boing poisoned is confirmed, our organisation is willing to reconsider its position and help Eshankulova to obtain qualified legal assistance as well as assist her to ensure her safety, if necessary.


To the memory of Elena Ryabinina

Elena Ryabinina died on 4 May 2014

Давайте негромко,
Давайте вполголоса,
Давайте простимся светло.

(Из «Прощальной песни» (стихи Юлия Кима)). Lena loved this author and presented her friends with record of this concert.

Photo: One of the last photos of Elena Ryabinina. 
In difficult, almost hopeless situations Lena always joked and found a way out.

Since 2002 Elena Ryabinina defended the rights of Central Asian refugees living in Russia, was the manager of “Help political refugees from Central Asia” and “Right to Asylum” programs.

Riabinina actively fought for compliance with the Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal instruments. At the same time it was a struggle with the Russian judicial system, for which the people and their rights are traditionally in the last place. But thanks to her highest competence, energy, integrity and perseverance, Elena, many times, managed to overcome the resistance of enormous bureaucratic machine. Also, it was a struggle against agreements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which violates rights and basic principles of the international law. Using these agreements, the SCO member states are trying to give a semblance of legality to their political repressions. First of all, we are dealing with politically motivated kidnapping and forced extradition, deportation of refugees.

Thanks to Elena Riabinina’s efforts, about 70 refugee families were moved from Russia to safe countries.

She was able to create a database on cases of unlawful forced return of refugees to their countries of origin. As a rule, they were later imprisoned and many of them were tortured to give evidence against themselves. Lena followed their fate; until the last days of life, she informed independent observers in the field of human rights protection about fate of such refugee. 

All these cases have been accurately documented and became the undisputed argument for protection against torture and the subject of analysis for many reputable human rights organisations. Based on information Elena Riabinina provided, governments of U.S. Canada and many of the EU states formed recommendations for the countries of Central Asia in their dialogue in the field of human rights. Colossal amount of work and huge experience allowed Elena Riabinina to become a serious expert in the field of protection of the rights of refugees from Central Asia; her expert opinion allowed to influence the fates of many people persecuted for political and religious reasons. 

Elena Riabinina cooperated with the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia since 2005: //www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/05/memory-elena-ryabinina». 

As a human rights activist she published a lot about the problems of refugees in the form of press releases and articles. Here are some of them:

"The Shanghai Six" and expulsion of refugees http://www.hro.org/node/2933

"Sinusoid" International law, extradition matters and some of trigonometry: http://www.hro.org/node/4816

Other article by Elena Riabinina in portal “Human Rights in Russia”:  http://www.hro.org/user/12/track

You can read the human rights activist’s biography here:  http://www.agentura.ru/dossier/russia/people/ryabinina/

*  *  *
Elena Raybinina is remembered as a cheerful and kind person. These days, meeting with her and common causes are remembered and we are sadned that they are over.

Elena Riabinina accomplished many charitable works. We will miss her a great deal.

We cherish memory of you, my dear Lena.


Handing of the "Journalist 2013" Award of "Reporters without Borders" to daughters of Mohammed Bekjan

Aygul Bekjanova: "In Uzbekistan there is no law that prohibits children to meet their father, but I can not get a permission to meet with my father for many years ...".

On 2 May 2014 in Washington, DC office of the "Open Society Foundation”,  daughters of Muhammed Bekjanov, a political prisoner, former editor of the opposition newspaper "Erk", were given the prize "Journalist of 2013" awarded to him established by "Reporters without Borders". The Prize was awarded to Muhammed Bekjanov in November 2013 and given to his family on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.

Muhammed BEKJANOV, born in 1954, is a citizen of Uzbekistan. He is a former chief editor of the "Erk" newspaper which was founded by the opposition party of the same name.

In 1999, Muhammed Bekjan was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment under the following Articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan: 158, § 3 - "Attempts on life of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan"; 159, § 3 - "Endangering the constitutional order of the Republic of Uzbekistan"; 216 - "Organisation of banned public associations and religious organisations"; 223, part 2 - "Illegal travel abroad or illegal entry into the Republic of Uzbekistan", 227, Part 2 - "Seizure, destruction, damage or concealment of documents, stamps, seals, forms," ​​228 subsections 2, 3 - "Manufacturing, forgery of documents, stamps, seals, forms, and their sale or use"; 242, Part 1 - "The organisation of a criminal community." In 2003, under an amnesty, his sentence was reduced by 3 years and 8 months.

In 1999, during his interrogation in Tashkent prison, Muhammed Bekjanov was tortured. Then they broke his leg, and he still limps. On the third year of imprisonment, he contracted tuberculosis. With this diagnosis, Bekjanov was treated twice in a hospital for prisoners in "Sangorod" in Tashkent. He desperately needs help dentists.

On 25 January 2012, at a meeting in the Kasan prison of the Kashkadarya region, on charges of "violating the internal regulations," another five years were added to his sentence.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, "Amnesty International", "Reporters Without Borders», CPJ, «ACAT-France» and HRW, in their reports, have repeatedly expressed concern about the situation of Muhammed Bekjanov.

Head of the branch for Europe and Central Asia of "Reporters without Borders", Johan Bikram, said, "In Uzbekistan, at least another 10 journalists remain in prison. Four of them suffer in prison because of journalism, others are punished for human rights activism. One of the journalists remaining in prison is Mohammed Bekjanov".