REPRESSION IN UZBEKISTAN

05/30/2001
BBG-IBB-VOA EDITORIAL NUMBER=0-09287

REPRESSION IN UZBEKISTAN

The authoritarian regime of Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov continues to persecute its opponents. The latest outrage is the arrest of Nodira [nah-der-RAH] and Mehriniso [meh-rin-neh-SAH] Murtazayeva [mort-tah-ZYE-yeh-vah]. Both women are sisters of Jahongir Muhammad Mamatov [jah-hawn-GEER moo-HAH-mahd mah-MAH-tov], former deputy of the Uzbekistan parliament, human rights activist, and journalist.

Mr. Mamatov escaped from a political prison in 1993 and was later granted asylum in the United States. Since October 1999, Mamatov has been an employee of the Voice of America’s Uzbek service. In April, Nodira Murtazayeva was warned that unless her brother ceased reporting on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, she and her sister would be arrested. Authorities falsely charged both women with possession of narcotics. Mehriniso has been released but still faces prosecution. Nodira is a professional nurse and the mother of a three-month-old child. The Society for Human Rights in Uzbekistan called the arrests “vengeance on the part of Uzbek authorities for Jahongir Muhammad’s activity on the Voice of America.”

Uzbekistan security forces routinely plant narcotics, weapons, or Islamic literature on detainees to justify arrest or extort bribes. The Karimov government also uses psychiatric abuse to punish those who speak out against it. Human rights activist Elena Urlaeva [yeh-LEH-nah oor-LEH-yeh-vah] was arrested on her way to a political protest on April 6th. Since then, she has been held incommunicado in a psychiatric hospital in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan authorities target the families of political opponents who incur the government’s wrath, a practice common to totalitarian regimes. Family members are often detained, beaten, or forced to undergo public humiliation. Following Jahongir Muhammad Mamatov’s escape from prison, his wife was sentenced to two years in prison on trumped-up charges. More than twenty of his friends and relatives were also detained.

By persecuting those who report on its abuses, the Karimov government in Uzbekistan is behaving like a police state, with only the trappings of a democratic government. It should immediately release and drop charges against Nodira and Mehriniso Murtazayeva and all other political prisoners.

5 Responses

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