Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Uzbekistan

Dissolution of LAS74

In December 2005, the Ministry of Justice had accused the Legal Aid Society (LAS) of violating the 1999 Law on NGOs, after "noting" minor offences in its charter. These charges were brought following an audit of the organisation's activities and administrative documentation, after Ms. Nozima Kamalova, LAS president, participated in the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw (Poland) in September 2005. On that occasion, Ms. Kamalova had denounced the Andijan massacre.

The organisation's closure was confirmed in appeal on December 29, 2005 and the organisation is now forced to carry out its activities in extremely precarious conditions, without any legal registration.

Acts of harassment against several HRSU members

Ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Khabibulla Okpulatov, Abdusattor Irzaev, Norboy Kholjigitov and Nassim Isakov75

Several members of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU) who had been condemned in 2005 remained detained as of late 2006:

– Mr. Norboy Kholjigitov, head of the Ishtikhanskii district section of HRSU, sentenced on October 18, 2005 to ten years in prison by the Samarkand Regional Criminal Court on the basis of six charges. He remained detained in Prison 64/49 in Karshi.

– Mr. Khabibulla Okpulatov and Mr. Abdusattor Irzaev, members of the Ishtikhanskii district section of HRSU, sentenced on the same day to a six-year prison term by the Samarkand Regional Criminal Court. Their place of detention remained unknown as of the end of 2006.

– Mr. Nosim Isakov, a member of the HRSU section in Djizak, sentenced on December 20, 2005 to eight years in prison by the Djizak Court for "extortion" and "hooliganism" (Articles 165 and 277 of the Criminal Code) after denouncing corrupt practices in Djizak. He was detained in Karshi prison. During his trial, Mr. Isakov had reported being subjected to ill-treatment while in custody.

Ill-treatment of the Pardaev brothers and arbitrary detention of Mr. Uktir Pardaev76

On March 24, 2006, Messrs. Uktir and Sharov Pardaev, brothers and members of the HRSU section in Djizak, were arrested and beaten by representatives of the police forces after being taken to the police station as witnesses to another arrest. Thanks to the mobilisation of local civil society, they were released a few hours later. However, Mr. Sharov Pardaev had to be taken to hospital because of the blows he had received.

On June 27, 2006, Mr. Uktir Pardaev was again arrested by officers of the Djizak department of the Ministry of the Interior. He was sentenced on June 29, 2006 to four years' imprisonment by the Djizak Criminal Court in respect of a charge of "injury to a third party" (Article 105-2 of the Criminal Code).

In late 2006, Mr. Pardaev remained detained in labour camp no. 64/73, in the Tchimkurgan village, Zafarabadski district (Djizak).

Arbitrary detention and acts of torture against Mr. Azam Formonov and Mr. Alicher Karamatov77

On April 29, 2006, Messrs. Azam Formonov and Alicher Karamatov, heads of the regional HRSU branch in Syrdaria and in Mirzaabad (Syrdaria region) respectively, were arrested and detained at the Khavast prison. Their first month of detention was spent incommunicado in the custody centre no. 13 of Khavast where they were subjected to torture. Shortly prior to their arrest, Mr. Formonov had been ordered to pay a 47,000 sums fine (about 33 euros) for "tax evasion" on the grounds that he had allegedly breached commercial laws by using equipment lent by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF).

During his arrest, police officers searched his house, which served as the section's headquarters, and seized his computer and photocopier after violently hitting his wife, Ms. Ozoda Yakubova. Relatives of Messrs. Formonov and Karamatov were subsequently subjected to numerous threats and acts of harassment.

On June 15, 2006, Messrs. Formonov and Karamatov were sentenced to nine years in prison by the Yanghuier Court of the Syrdaria region for "extortion of money" (Article 165 of the Criminal Code). These charges were brought on the basis of a statement made after their arrest by a wealthy oil exporter of the Zaaminsk region, which accused Messrs. Azam Formonov and Alicher Karamatov of extorting 600,000 sums from him (about 420,000 euros).

On July 7, 2006, Mr. Karamatov was transferred to Karshi penitentiary colony no. 49.

On July 18, 2006, their sentence was upheld on appeal, although the case had not yet been officially referred to the Court. Following the hearing, Messrs. Formonov and Karamatov were transferred to penitentiary colony no. 71 in the Karakalpakie region, in the west of the country, where detention conditions are known to be extremely harsh and frequently leading to the death of detainees.

Mr. Azam Formonov also remained under prosecution in respect of the arson attack on his house in November 2005, which he was accused of having started himself in order to draw the attention of the international community.

Arbitrary detention and release of Mr. Yadgar Turlibekov78

On June 16, 2006, the home of Mr. Yadgar Turlibekov, president of the Kashkadarinsk regional section of HRSU, was searched without warrant, for four hours, by 30 militiamen and members of the National Security Services (NSS). Hard disks and documents were seized and Mr. Turlibekov was placed in custody in the Bukhara prison.

Mr. Yadgar Turlibekov was initially accused of "defamation", "libel against the government", "libel against the President of the Republic" and "preparation or distribution of material constituting a threat to public security and order" (Articles 139, 140, 158 and 244-1 of the Criminal Code). He was finally convicted by the Karshi Court on October 9, 2006 and sentenced to a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for "extortion" (Article 165 of the Criminal Code). The trial was held in camera and his lawyer was prevented from representing him during the hearings. The verdict was upheld by the Kashkadarinsk Regional Court of Appeal.

On December 24, 2006, Mr. Turlibekov, benefiting from an amnesty initiated by the Parliament on November 30, 2006, was released from the Tavaksai prison in the Tashkent region, where he had been detained since his conviction. However, the authorities refused to return his passport, which he had still not recovered as of late December 2006.

Reprisals against Messrs. Tolib Yakubov and Abdujalil Boymatov79

On July 12, 2006, Mr. Tolib Yakubov, HRSU president, was summoned by the Djizak security services for the date of July 15, 2006, under the pretext that he was subpoenaed as a witness in a judicial case against Mr. Mamarajab Nazarov, a member of Ezgulik80.

Fearing arrest and in light of the many acts of reprisals against him and his colleagues, Mr. Yakubov decided to leave the country immediately, together with Mr. Abdujalil Boymatov, a member of the HRSU secretariat, also summoned to appear before the court on July 15, 2006.

On August 3, 2006, Mr. Tolib Yakubov and Mr. Abdujalil Boymatov were arrested by the police in Almaty (Kazakhstan). As he had obtained a visa for France, Mr. Yakubov was released after five hours of questioning. Mr. Boymatov was placed in custody and released on August 14, 2006. He was able to leave Kazakhstan on August 18, 2006 after receiving a visa from the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Olim Yakubov, Mr. Tolib Yakubov's son, had also been forced to seek exile abroad in February 2006 due to fears for his safety.

Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Mr. Ikhtior Khamroev81

On July 23, 2006, Mr. Ikhtior Khamroev, a student and son of Mr. Bakhtior Khamroev, head of the HRSU section in Djizak, was insulted and severely beaten by a group of young men, in the street near his house.

On August 2, 2006, Mr. Ikhtior Khamroev was arrested and charged with "hooliganism" (Article 177 of the Criminal Code) after over eight hours of questioning in the absence of his lawyer.

On September 23, 2006, he was convicted and given the maximum sentence of three years in prison.

On October 30, 2006, the verdict was upheld by the Djizak Regional Court and subsequently by the Supreme Court on November 22, 2006.

In November 2006, while in detention, Mr. Khamroev received two disciplinary warnings aimed at preventing him from benefiting from the amnesty adopted by the Uzbek Parliament and scheduled to enter into force on November 30, 2006.

On December 10, 2006, Mr. Ikhtior Khamroev was transferred from penitentiary colony no. 64/73 in the Tchumurgan village to penitentiary colony no. 64/78 in the Zafarabadski district.

Furthermore, on December 26, 2006, Mr. Khamroev requested a prison guard to be granted access to a doctor and to inform the camp director of his health condition. On the following day, he was handcuffed and violently beaten by the camp employees before being held incommunicado for the rest of the day. As his health deteriorated, he was transferred to the Zafarabad hospital. However, he was taken back to the camp without having been examined.

On January 5, 2007, Mr. Khamroev was transferred to the Djizak hospital, where the doctor diagnosed him with a stomach ulcer. However, on the next day, after talking to the labour camp director, the doctor declared that Mr. Khamroev only had gastritis. He was taken back to the camp the same day.

Ill-treatment of Mr. Bakhtior Khamroev82

On August 1 2006, Mr. Bakhtior Khamroev was arrested by officers of the Djizak anti-terrorist unit and taken to the town's police station no. 2 where he was detained for three hours. He was given a summons signed by the examining judge of the Djizak police to be questioned on an article co-written with Mr. Tolib Yakubov about women who had brought charges against Mr. Mamarajab Nazarov83.

On August 8, 2006, Mr. Bakhtior Khamroev was again summoned to be interrogated as a witness in the case involving his son.

On August 18, 2006, Mr. Bakhtior Khamroev was attacked in his home, in Djizak, while meeting with two representatives of the British embassy in Uzbekistan, who had come to inquire about the human rights situation in the region.

Five women and a man stormed into his apartment, insulted him and accused him of being a traitor who invited "spies" in his home. After Mr. Khamroev managed to make them leave, they remained outside the building, violently hammering the door. They also cut the telephone and electricity connections. After Mr. Khamroev called the police on his mobile phone, some 20 women entered into the flat at the same time as the police officers. Four representatives of the Djizak town also arrived at that very moment and told Mr. Khamroev that he had to stop his human rights activities.

Mr. Khamroev was hit on the head with a metal object and had to be taken to hospital. However, the doctors who treated him refused to open a medical record, thus preventing him from obtaining evidence and addressing his case to the police.

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Jamshid Karimov84

On September 12, 2006, Mr. Jamshid Karimov, an HRSU member and a journalist for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), disappeared while on his way to the hospital to visit his mother.

He was secretly detained in a psychiatric hospital in the Samarkand region, for six months on the basis of an order of the Djizak Court. The possible extension of his detention should be examined by the Samarkand courts once his term is served.

Continued harassment of members of Ezgulik85

Ill-treatment of Ms. Gavkhar Yuldasheva

On January 3, 2006, Ms. Gavkhar Yuldasheva, a member of the human rights NGO Ezgulik in the Djizak district, was arrested and beaten as she was about to meet representatives of foreign embassies. She was taken to the regional department of the Ministry of the Interior, where she was subjected to acts of violence, the effects of which she still suffers to date. She was subsequently released on an unknown date.

Arbitrary detention of Messrs. Dilmurad Muhitdinov, Mussajon Bobojanov, Akbarali Oripov and Nurmuhammad Azizov

On January 12, 2006, Messrs. Dilmurad Muhitdinov, president of the Markhamat section of Ezgulik, Akbarali Oripov, a member of Ezgulik, Mussajon Bobojanov, an Ezgulik member and president of the local political organisation Birlik, and Nurmuhammad Azizov, president of the HRSU branch in Andijan, appeared before the Tashkent Court for "infringing on the President's life" (Article 158-3 of the Criminal Code), "undermining constitutional order" (Article 159-3), "preparing and distributing material constituting a threat to public order" (Article 244-1.3) and "belonging to an extremist religious organisation" (Article 244-1).

That same day, Mr. Dilmurad Muhitdinov received a five-year prison sentence. Messrs. Akbarali Oripov, Mussajon Bobojanov and Nurmuhammad Azizov were convicted and received a three-year suspended sentence. They were subsequently released.

Messrs. Dilmurad Muhitdinov and Mussajon Bobojanov had been arrested on May 28, 2005 following the Andijan events. Messrs. Akbarali Oripov and Nurmuhammad Azizov had been arrested on June 2, 2005 during searches at their homes led by officers of the Ministry of the Interior department in Markhamat, in the Andijan region.

As of the end of 2006, Mr. Muhitdinov's place of detention remained unknown.

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Rassul Khudainazarov

On January 12, 2006, Mr. Rassul Khudainazarov, former president of the Ezgulik section in Angren, was sentenced by the Angren Court of the Tashkent region to nine and a half years in a penitentiary colony for "fraud" and "extortion" (Articles 168-1 and 277-2 of the Criminal Code). During the trial, Mr. Khudainazarov declared that he had been ill-treated while in custody.

Mr. Khudainazarov had been arrested on June 21, 2005 and placed in custody in Angren. He was accused of extorting money from an officer of the special police forces of the Okhangaronski Mountains.

As of the end of 2006, his place of detention remained unknown.

Arbitrary detention and release of Mr. Arabboi Kadirov

On May 24, 2006, Mr. Arabboi Kadirov, head of Ezgulik for the Pop district, in the Namangan region, was arrested at his home on suspicion of "falsification of documents". The police, in possession of arrest and search warrants, seized his computer and various documents related to his activities.

On November 13, 2006, Mr. Arabboi Kadirov was discharged by the Namangan District Court.

Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Mr. Mamarajab Nazarov

On June 22, 2006, Mr. Mamarajab Nazarov, a member of Ezgulik in the Djizak region, was arrested after a complaint was lodged by two women who had violently hit him in late May 2006.

On July 19, 2006, Mr. Nazarov was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for "extortion" and "hooliganism" (Articles 168 and 277-3 of the Criminal Code) by the Djizak Criminal Court.

As of the end of 2006, Mr. Nazarov remained detained in the Samarkand prison.

Detention of Mr. Isroiljon Kholdarov

On July 4, 2006, Mr. Isroiljon Kholdarov, head of the Ezgulik branch in the Andijan region, was arrested in Kyrgyzstan where he was seeking political asylum. On July 12, 2006, the Kyrgyz authorities announced the arrest of five Uzbek citizens, including one who was wanted in Uzbekistan in connection with the Andijan events. Furthermore, the authorities declared that the five men, including Mr. Kholdarov, were suspected of participating in armed uprisings in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Mr. Kholdarov was subsequently extradited to Uzbekistan.

By the end of 2006, Mr. Kholdarov's case had still not come before a court and he was presumed to be detained in the Tashkent prison no. 64/18.

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov86

On January 5, 2006, during a preliminary hearing of his trial in camera, the Tashkent Court sentenced Mr. Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, president of the Andijan-based human rights organisation Appeliatsia ("Appeal"), to seven years' imprisonment for "defamation" and "preparation or distribution of material constituting a threat for public security and order" (Articles 139 and 244-1 of the Criminal Code).

Mr. Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov had been arrested on May 21, 2005 after denouncing the human rights violations perpetrated during the Andijan events and speaking with international media.

Mr. Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov remained in detention in the Tashkent Prison as of the end of 2006.

Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Ms. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva87

On March 6, 2006, the Dustobod Court in Tashkent condemned Ms. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva, president of the "Ardent Hearts' Club", a human rights NGO based in Margilan, in the Fergana Valley, to an eight-year prison sentence on the basis of 17 charges mainly referring to economic offences, including "defamation" (Article 139.3 of the Criminal Code) and "belonging to an illegal organisation" (Article 244), following a trial marred by numerous irregularities. She had been arrested on October 7, 2005.

On July 7, 2006, Ms. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva was transferred from her cell in the Tashkent detention centre to the psychiatric section for the mentally-ill and drug-addicts of the women's detention centre of the Mirabad district in Tashkent, where she was forced to undergo medical treatment.

On July 13, 2006, during one of the rare visits from her lawyer, Ms. Tojibaeva had her hands tied and was extremely weak. She reported that she had been denied access to appropriate medical treatment and that the prison authorities refused to allow her to receive food parcels. Since then, Ms. Tojibaeva was denied any other visits and no official reason was given for her transfer to the psychiatric section, in spite of her lawyer's requests.

On August 15, 2006, Ms. Dilafruz Nurmatova, one of Ms. Tojibaeva's lawyers, announced publicly that she was no longer her defence lawyer as a result of the authorities' constant pressure and fears for her and her family's safety. After visiting Ms. Tojibaeva on July 13, 2006, she had received several warnings, was unable to access the internet café where she used to work, and was threatened with death by a political leader of the Fergana region who had also advised her colleagues not to contact her anymore.

As of the end of 2006, Ms. Tojibaeva remained detained in the women's detention centre of the Mirabad district in Tashkent.

Harassment and ill-treatment of several dozens of human rights defenders88

Acts of reprisal against Mrs. Elena Urlaeva and her husband89

On several occasions, including on January 2 and May 13, 14, 16, 17 and 25, 2006, Mrs. Elena Urlaeva, president of the Society for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedom of the Citizens of Uzbekistan (SPRFCU) and a member of the opposition party Ozod Dekhonlar, was placed under house arrest.

On January 4, 2006, Mrs. Elena Urlaeva was briefly arrested while demonstrating against the detention of Ms. Nadira Hidoyatova, coordinator of the opposition movement "Solar Coalition".

On March 15, 2006, Mr. Mansur Urlaev, Mrs. Elena Urlaeva's husband, was attacked by unidentified individuals. He lost consciousness and had to be taken to hospital with a broken nose. Mr. Urlaev had already been arbitrarily detained and placed in detention in psychiatric institutions on several occasions.

On May 25, 2006, police officers forced open the door of Mrs. Urlaeva's apartment and violently beat her as well as Mr. Abdullo Tajiboi Ugly, a member of the Initiative Group for Independent Defenders of Uzbekistan, Mr. Akhmat Chamairdanov, president of the human rights and environmental organisation Tchichik-Darya, and Ms. Shokhida Yuldasheva, a member of the SPRFCU regional section in Kashkadarynsk.

Mrs. Urlaeva had already been targeted by many acts of reprisals in 2005. In particular, she had been placed in detention in a psychiatric hospital for two months, where she had been forced to undergo medical treatment for alleged schizophrenia.

Detention in psychiatric hospital of two SPRFCU members

On March 17, 2006, Ms. Shokhida Yuldasheva and Ms. Lydia Volkobrun, both SPRFCU members, were arrested and held in detention in a psychiatric hospital in Karshi and Tashkent respectively, after the publication of a letter denouncing the reprisals led by the authorities against members of the Muslim community.

Ms. Yuldasheva was violently jostled when arrested. During her detention, she was also subjected to psychological pressure from a police officer who spent two days in her room and threatened to kill her and disguise her death as suicide if she attempted to file a complaint.

In addition, Ms. Yuldasheva was forced to undergo medical treatment for schizophrenia. She was released on April 6, 2006.

On May 25, 2006, Ms. Yuldasheva was again arrested when police officers stormed into Mrs. Urlaeva's home, and placed in the psychiatric section of the anti-turberculosis hospital for the Kitabski district (Kashkadarynsk).

As of the end of 2006, no further information had been made available as to her situation.

Judicial proceedings against 14 defenders90

On August 14, 2006, Mr. Constantin Stepanov and Ms. Olga Krasnova, former HRSU members and members of the pro-government Committee for Social Monitoring, filed a complaint for "defamation" against 14 defenders who had denounced the reprisals carried out against them by these two persons.

Their trial started in September 2006 before the Civil Court of the Mirzo-Ulugbekski district in Tashkent. The following six defenders had previously been excluded from the complaint: Mrs. Urlaeva, considered as legally incapable, Mr. Gavkhar Aripova, a member of the Independent Commission for Research and Study on Armed Conflicts, Mrs. Marina Tegvoryan and Mr. Yuldach Nasirov, who were not summoned, Mr. Zakir Yahin, who died from natural causes, and Mr. Satyvoldy Abdullaev, who had dropped his complaint after being pressured to do so.

However, Mr. Tolib Yakubov, Mr. Abdujalil Boymatov, Ms. Lydia Volkobrun, Mr. Yuri Konoplev, SPRFCU vice-president, Mr. Evgeny Arhipov, Ms. Olga Barycheva, Ms. Nina Gorlova and Ms. Kunduz Nichanova, SPRFCU members, remained indicted.

Mr. Tolib Yakubov and Mr. Abdujalil Boymatov were liable to a 10,000,000 sums fine (about 4,300 euros) and the other defenders to a 500,000 sums fine (215 euros). Both Mr. Yakubov and Mr. Boymatov were being prosecuted in absentia.

Three hearings were held on November 8 and 30 and December 14, 2006. The judge then adjourned the hearing until December 26, 2006 after the defendants left the tribunal in protest against the presence at the hearing of Mr. Mikkhail Ordzimov, president of the Independent Organisation for Human Rights in Uzbekistan (controlled by the government), who had regularly intervened in other trials involving human rights defenders.

Proceedings remained pending as of the end of 2006.

On November 14, 2006, a second complaint was filed by Mr. Constantin Stepanov and Ms. Olga Krasnova against Ms. Lydia Volkobrun, Mr. Yuri Konoplev, Mr. Abdujalil Boymatov, Mrs. Elena Urlaeva and Ms. Kunduz Nishanova. They were accused of "belonging to unregistered organisations". The trial was also held before the Civil Court of the Mirzo-Ulugbekski district and remained pending as of late 2006.

Since 2004, Mr. Konstantin Stepanov and Ms. Olga Krasnova lodged several complaints against human rights defenders, including two against Mr. Tolib Yakubov.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

74. See Annual Report 2005.

75. See Annual Report 2005 and Association "Human Rights in Central Asia".

76. See Annual Report 2005 and Open Letter to the Uzbek authorities, June 30, 2006.

77. Idem.

78. Idem.

79. See Annual Report 2005.

80. See above.

81. See Urgent Appeals UZB 002/0806/OBS 095, 095.1 and 095.2.

82. Idem.

83. See above.

84. See HRSU.

85. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeal UZB 001/0306/OBS 026.

86. See Annual Report 2005.

87. See Annual Report 2005, Urgent Appeals UZB 001/0306/OBS 026, 026.1 and 026.2, and Open Letter to the Uzbek authorities, June 30, 2006.

88. See SPRFCU.

89. See Annual Report 2005.

90. See HRSU.


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