«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.

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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


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


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

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)

Rajabboy Bobojon a journalist died in Uzbekistan

Rajabboy Bobojon 
On 5 November 2014 Rajabboy Bobojon passed away. He was born in 1937 and lived in city of Urgench of the Khorazm region of Uzbekistan all his life.

R. Bobojon worked for 40 years as a correspondent of Radio of Uzbekistan for the Khorazm region. He won the confidence of a large audience with his witty and relevant reports. In all his reports he always showed difficult life situations of ordinary citizens which resulted in him being perceived by the authorities as a dissident. People quote him when criticising the officials for their inaction.

Rajabboy Bobozhon was and will remain a role model for his children and grandchildren. His three sons Shukhrat, Kudrat and Hurmat Babajanovs became journalists and are being prosecuted by the Islam Karimov regime for their works. R. Bobojon always supported his sons’ professional position. The State TV channels of Uzbekistan many times showed libellous films about them. He was very proud for bringing them up to be independent and courageous in such closed and repressive society. Shukhrat, Kudrat and Khurmat Babajonovs had to leave Uzbekistan because of a threat of imprisonment. Their father was very sensitive to this forced separation.

Rajabboy Bobojon’s family always highly valued freedom of expression and opinions. The father even had to go through a forced separation from his sons and grandchildren for the love of these ideals. Shukhrat, Kudrat and Khurmat Babajonovs continued working as journalist abroad. Their loss is made even greater because the Karimov regime did not give them any chance to say goodbyes or give the last rites to their father.

The team and members of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia express their condolences to the family of Rajabboy Bobojonon.

We cherish his memories.