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Introduction: 
Uzbekistan’s civil society is in crisis. Human rights defenders, independent journalists and political activists are imprisoned on bogus charges simply for doing their work. Many are subject to ill-treatment and torture in prison. Those human rights defenders who remain at liberty face constant government pressure and harassment. Independent journalists risk prosecution for writing stories the government deems to be “defamatory,” and many lawyers who took on politically sensitive cases have been disbarred. When he was in Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch researcher Steve Swerdlow met with courageous individuals who continue their work despite the risks they face. Photographs by Steve Swerdlow/Human Rights Watch.