Human Rights News
Free Uzbek Rights Defender Ruslan Sharipov FREE    Join the HRW Mailing List 
Ruslan Sharipov: Letter from Prison

Related Material

Uzbekistan: Rights Defender Faces Discriminatory Charges
HRW Press Release, August 12, 2003

Letter to Uzbek President Islam Karimov Regarding the Case of Ruslan Sharipov
HRW Letter, August 12, 2003

Take Action Now
What You Can Do

Coming of age of the Uzbek Republic, or All roads lead to “Independence”

“Don’t make me commit suicide Mr. President! ”

Now it is 12 years of our Independence. In the Eastern calendar 12 years means full age… It will not be a mistake to say that in the past period we have built a new life, new society, democratic government in our country, in Uzbekistan. In short we have built up a worthy life for us and our generation, the life on the level of the world’s developed countries – without a doubt it equals centuries.
-- Speech given on August 31, 2003 by the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov.

September 5, 2003

Dear Kofi Annan,

I am writing to you from Tashkent prison in order, once again, to draw your and the international community’s attention to the situation of human rights, freedom of expression, and persecution of opponents of the corrupt regime.

I was tortured and pressured in ways I cannot describe with the aim of forcing me to confess and plead guilty at trial for a crime that I hadn’t committed.

Ruslan Sharipov
Uzbek rights defender


Despite of the fact that as a result of my previous letters from prison I endured increased pressure, threats and torture, I decided again to write to the international community with a request to decisively judge the repressive politics of the Uzbek government against the few remaining critical voices in Uzbekistan.

My agony for our country, which is run by corrupt authorities and organized crime, pushes me to take this illogical action, as well as concern for my colleagues, both those who are not imprisoned and those who are in Uzbek prisons.

I say “illogical” because before I “confessed” and “plead guilty” at the trial presided over by judge Mahmudov Ganisher, I was forced to write a “death note,” in which I wrote, as dictated, a goodbye letter and declared that I committed suicide of my own volition.

I was clearly told that if I would write any further appeals or complaints, I would commit suicide, that is, I would “kill myself.”

I was tortured and pressured in ways I cannot describe with the aim of forcing me to confess and plead guilty at trial for a crime that I hadn’t committed. The same thing happened to me during the investigation at the Mirzo-Ulugbek District Department of Internal Affairs.

When using torture and pressure against me, police officers from the criminal investigation department of the District Department of Internal Affairs, whose names are [name omitted] and [name omitted], understood very well that, during the trial, if they were to use cruel methods of torture: beatings or harassment, my lawyers would see the marks of the torture. This is why they used forms of torture that couldn’t leave any evidence of beatings on my body.

However, these barbarians did all that was necessary, to “convince” me to plead guilty and incriminate myself with my own mouth at the trial.

They put a gas mask on my head and sprayed an unknown substance into my throat, after which I could hardly breathe. The also injected an unknown substance into my veins and warned me that if I did not follow their instructions they would give me an injection of the AIDS virus.

I could not withstand such excesses, and now I am writing only a small part of what I faced and unfortunately I can’t now write the names of all the persons who were directly involved.

As the officers of the Mirzo-Ulugbek District Department of Internal Affairs, [names omitted], tortured and threatened me, likewise [names omitted] tortured and threatened me in the basement of the GUVD (City Department of the Internal Affairs); and similarly the officers of the Yunusabad District Department of Internal Affairs who detained me and tortured and threatened me at the building of the Yunusabad District Department of Internal Affairs, all of them being employees of different sections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, hiding their names under the Minister of the Internal Affairs, Ministry Zokir Almatov and the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.

During my detention, these officers told me that Zokir Almatov himself was keeping my criminal case under his control and reporting personally to Islam Karimov, that they would imprison me, and that it would be better if I followed their instructions, in order to shorten the prison term and imprisonment, as well as to save my life and health.

[Public official-name omitted], and [names omitted] even threatened physical harassment of my lawyers if I did not release them, and they demanded that I send my mother out from the court room, confess, and plead guilty, and especially that I ask pardon of President Islam Karimov and Zokir Almatov for criticism and “disinformation” about the Uzbek government and the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

They were irritated when their suit against me collapsed before their own eyes, victims became hysterical during cross-examination by the defending side, the lack of evidence to support their allegations, and furthermore that the forensic examinations showed no evidence of sexual contact between us.

And that is why, during this crucial stage of the trial I faced such a cruel treatment, in spite of the risk that I could testify about the torture with my lawyers at the trial.

But I remembered their warning that the lawyers will go and I will stay in their hands. To be honest, I was horribly afraid after what they had done with me, and about what unfortunately I cannot say. I was also afraid that they could do all this to my mother and younger brother, as well as to my lawyers.

I will never forget that videotaping, which shamed my honesty and dignity that they organized and indeed I am, as every citizen of the country, literally without the strength to oppose this hellish machine. Today I indeed damn the day when I believed in the purposes and aims spread in the propaganda of the Uzbek authorities in 1999, when I set myself the goal of taking part in and successfully completing the program of the “Umid” foundation of the President Islam Karimov, participation in which led to my independent journalistic and human rights activities and subsequent imprisonment because of these activities.

It would be foolish to say that I did not know what my actions would lead to. In fact I understood perfectly. But it is an entirely different matter to actually to go through this hellish nightmare yourself, in which no one will help you and no one will hear you.

President Islam Karimov will not give his hand of aid because I and my colleagues in the Uzbek prisons are considered enemies of the people.

The President Islam Karimov doesn’t even know, that as a result of pursuing justice, defending human rights and freedom of expression, and criticizing corruption in the higher level authorities and the Internal Affairs Ministry (city and district departments), now I am afraid of my own shadow and the noise of the opening of the cell’s doors, because I am waiting the next round of torture at the hands of the officers of the Mirzo-Ulugbek District Department of Internal Affairs and other structures of the system. The officers always reminded me that they and others (whose names I cannot write now) at any time can call me back with the same request and again continue the derision of my life, honesty and dignity, which they have already turned into a laughingstock.

Soon, I will be sent to a prison colony to serve my sentence, where, according to the city department and Yunusabad and Mirzo-Ulugbek district departments officers, some people are already waiting for me and I will have to answer for the “damage” caused to independent Uzbekistan.

Now, after hearing the open threats of the higher-level authorities, especially [from] the anti-terrorism department of the Tashkent City Department of Internal Affairs, and high-level officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [names omitted], I already don’t expect to be released, at least in near future. Today I would hope at least not be forced to “commit suicide” in detention, or to be disabled, as I now know from my own experience that in our independent Uzbekistan everything is done “by oneself.”

Meanwhile, against the background of repression of human rights defenders and journalists, pious believers, political opponents, and ordinary citizens, Uzbekistan recently celebrated the great day of Independence Day.

Dear Kofi Annan, as official Uzbekistan destroys critical voices, puts opponents of the regime in prisons, life in independent Uzbekistan goes on. You can be sure of this by reading an excerpt from an article by Vokhid Lukmon [commentator for Uzbekistan’s Information Agency]:

Today’s sunrise is not as usual. This is the sunrise of Independence… Let Independence be forever!” President Islam Karimov solemnly spoke this sensitive wish twelve years ago… Today Independence square is as smart as ever. Here the biggest holiday of our country is starting and from here it will spread along the country, will go from one side of the Republic to another, will grasp the furthest villages… Each year of our Independence equals centuries… It would be impossible on this holiday not to remember the huge successes of the wheat pickers of our country, not to reward them with dignity and praise. They picked up the biggest harvest in the country’s history… Under the leader of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, who chose his own way of development, progress confidently proceeds, and is internationally recognized as the ‘Uzbek Model.’

Today all the streets of Tashkent City are leading to Independence square. On August 31, 2003 at 7:30 p.m. the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov sets his foot on the square… The Governmental Hymn of Uzbekistan is played. Our compatriots are getting up, pressing hands to their heart, and at the same time singing the hymn. There is inspiration on people’s face and it is as if it spreads throughout the world. And indeed this is the case. In these exciting and happy minutes, one thinks about lots of things. One wants to look at the path traveled, breath freely, and to be proud of the great achievements of its people. Children are dancing… A march is played… Yes, what is reached in centuries we have reached in months, in years. Each past day can be written with golden letters to Independent Uzbekistan’s history. Enemies, who can only make rumors and slander, can’t oppose such progress. Our people know very well indeed who is who. The twelfth year of independence our President declared the year of the Mahalla, peace in Mahalla, peace in the country, comfortable Mahalla, the country is blooming… The holiday program on the square of the country is not only imagination. On this huge stage the past, present and future, the great dream of Uzbek people is reviving. Each melody, each song tells about the achievements of the twelve years. Happy Independence Holiday, my great country!

However, in the end I agree with the wishes of Vohid Lukmon:

Independence! – The sky is singing, the stars are singing, the centuries-old Chinar trees, the whole city is singing, the whole country! Being glad for these happy days, we remember the dark days and Thank God for that we have reached these days, this bright time.


Ruslan Sharipov
Correspondent of the Russian News Agency “Prima”
Leader of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan “Citizen Assistance”
Tashtyurma UYa 64/ Si 1

Copy to: HRW, RSF, PEN, CPJ, IPI, IFJ, OSCE, EBRD, ICJ, George Bush, Islam Karimov, Procuracy of Uzbekistan, Ministry of the Internal Affairs of Uzbekistan, Supreme Court of the Uzbekistan, Ombudsman of Uzbekistan.