the Disillusioned kid: Uzbekistan: Do Something, Part 2.
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Friday, October 14, 2005

Uzbekistan: Do Something, Part 2.

Mutabar Tajibayeva, who you're all supposed to be writing to your MPs about, has gone on hunger strike (via) in protest against her illegal arrest. This caused her situation to deteriorate so seriously that "an ambulance was urgently summoned," although it isn't clear from the report exactly when this happened nor what happened subsequently.

The report also provides more background on Tajibayeva's arrest than was available from initial reports. The activist was arrested on October 7 after she had addressed a meeting attended by (foreign?) journalists. She told them:
"I'm scheduled to go to Tashkent today but I do not know if I make it or not. I'm under surveillance now. Several cars tail me constantly. No, I'm not afraid of detention. Deputy Prosecutor General Anvar Nabiyev said at the trial in Tashkent that I support the opposition and that I called for armed action. He was lying."

"I did support the Kyrgyz opposition," Tajibayeva was quoted as saying. "In any case, I did not object to a peaceful demonstration. I reckon that the authorities grew scared when I said I had documents proving the innocence of the businessmen tried as Akromians..."
(The violence in Andijan was sparked after the government tried 23 businessmen they accused of being members of "Akramia" which they claim is a terrorist wing of banned Islamic fundamentalist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.)

Tajibayeva's arrest took place around 10pm after she had returned home. her daught, Makhliye Pulatova, believes that over a dozen men broke into the house. According to the report they were dressed "in uniforms and civvies." This would seem to contradict some earlier reports, including one carried on on October 10 which claimed, "More than 20 men (including senior police officers, servicemen of special forces, and six masked men brandishing assault rifles and truncheons)."

Clearly terrified of the threat posed by a female human rights activist and her daughter, the dozen or so representatives of Uzbekistan's security forces who were involved in the arrrest were not alone. Pulatova noted, "There were several others outside as well. I could not count how many because most were sitting in cars." After the arrest, Tajibayeva's house was searched by law enforcement officials, although they didn't have a warrant. They left taking various documents and a PC.

According to Dilafruz Nazarova, one of Tajibayeva's lawyers, authorities claim that Tajibayeva was arrested under Article 165 Part 2 Provision B of the Criminal Code. This apparently deals with extortion and carries a custodial sentence of ten years. The authorities claim to have corroborating documents and insist that the arrest has nothing to do with events in Andijan (as well they might). Nazavora has also complained that it has been difficult for any of Tajibayeva's three lawyers to meet with he, noting, "that cannot help having its negative effect."

Local activists don't buy the government story. They are convinced that the arrest was deliberately timed to prevent Tajibayeva attending an international human rights conference in Dublin (presumably this one) and you have to admit, the timing is convenient, some might say suspiciously so. They also accuse the government of seeking "to conceal the truth on what really happened in Andizhan, and to find out what documents concerning the so called Akromians she possesses."

If you haven't written, do. I've already got a response from my representative. I may not care much for his politics, but to his credit he is very good at responding to letters and a comunique is currently winging its way to the Foreign Office. On its own it isn't going to acheive much, but think about the potential if all of you write. Recall that in 2002 Theo van Boven, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture described the use of torture in Uzbekistan as "systematic". Last month an imam died in an Uzbek prison, apparently as a result of torture. In this context, the potential consequences of failing to act are clear.

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