Institutes of Higher Education
There was a clear pattern of discriminatory expulsions from institutes of higher education throughout Uzbekistan based on the administrations' objection to religious attire. The official explanations for the dismissals varied so widely, and the patterns of expulsion were so clear, however, as to suggest that the expulsions were completely arbitrary and deliberately discriminatory.
Typically, rectors issued a series of reprimands and verbal ultimata to students wearing religious headgear or beards and then executed expulsion orders citing religious dress as the reason for the expulsion. Some openly cited the government's policy of intolerance for "Wahhabis." In other cases, university officials spuriously cited frequent absences or low grades as the pretext. Administrators were also alleged to have doctored the records that reflected whether students had completed internships or fulfilled other extracurricular requirements necessary to progress to the next academic year or graduate.53 These academic administrators then justified the expulsion and suspension of students by pointing to their alleged failure to complete their practical study requirement.
Others complained that women's religious scarves-but not folk scarves-are unhygienic.54 No single type of beard was found objectionable. When threatened with expulsion and arrest, many male students elected to shave their beards. Some of those students who did not comply with the university administrators' orders to shave, however, were arbitrarily detained by police.
Administrators intimidated students to enforce the secular dress code, physically blocking students from classrooms and buildings, and ripping off women's headscarves. Police detained men and forced them to shave off their beards. They also intimidated relatives of students, insidiously undermining the student's potentially most powerful support base.
Senior university officials throughout the country instructed administrators at the university residence halls to evict expelled students from the dormitories. The dormitory management typically gave students between one day and one week after expulsion to move out of university housing. In at least one case, however, administrators from the Institute for Oriental Studies reportedly denied a student the right to university housing as a precursor to expulsion, apparently as another means of pressuring her to comply with university demands.55
Government responsibility for the discriminatory policy is clear. The administrations of institutes and schools that carried out expulsions answer to the Ministry of Education.56 Moreover, university administrators routinely referred to a directive from "higher authorities," meaning the government, when expelling students in religious attire. For example, a female student who wore hijab and was barred from attending classes and taking exams at one university in Tashkent recalled:
The dean said that on March 26 there was a meeting at the rector's office, and the rector said he got an order from higher authorities not to allow in the faculty girls with headscarves and boys with beards. To fulfill the order, we should leave the institute ourselves or be expelled...57
In this case, as in others, the university administrator reportedly expressed to the student his fear of meeting with the disfavor of his superiors. The student continued, "our dean says that it comes from higher authorities, that they are also under pressure, and he doesn't want to get in trouble because of me."58
This student also reported that pressure was put on professors to conform to government policy, and even that professors themselves were sometimes forced to shave: "Some teachers supported us. Some say we have the right to dress as we please. But they haven't helped in any other way. One of my professors was called and forced to shave his beard or be fired."59 Another student echoed, "There are teachers who are democratic, who in words have said, `we are on your side,' but have done nothing out of fear of being accused of interfering with the country's internal politics."60
Tashkent State University
The pattern of warnings and ultimata began in some institutions as early as 1997. One student, Elyor Toshboev, expelled from Tashkent State University, told Human Rights Watch:
It began in September 1997. A new policy was instituted against Islamicism and fundamentalism, and deans began asking about dress and some of us who were bearded or in hijab or scarves were told very shortly that if we went on doing this, we would be expelled and not allowed back. They did not want to know about our year or our marks, just `shave or else expulsion.' Those who did not [shave or remove their scarves] have been expelled.61
Tashkent State University Rector Turabek N. Dolimov defended the expulsion of females who wear headscarves with direct reference to the university code of conduct: "They have violated the Rules of Internal Life. This code says it is forbidden to wear hijab."62 (Human Rights Watch found that the code in fact makes no specific reference to hijab.) Rector Dolimov further suggested that his concern was not simply to carry out codified rules regarding dress but to stifle the expression of ideas he found objectionable. Discussing the students he had expelled, Rector Dolimov told Human Rights Watch: "We know they are Wahhabists and we know their ideas."63
In an apparent reference to the students' role as teachers during the practicum or internship portion of their education, Rector Dolimov declared:
I am not going to allow these Wahhabites to educate the children and then the next day they will take up a knife and another Afghanistan will start! All the Wahhabites and other extremists will be expelled from the university, you can call it what you want.64
Students from Tashkent State University also reported that they had been told that there had been a change in the regulations and that students were to dress so as not to draw the attention of others. They said that the administration claimed that beards and scarves were distracting to other students and constituted grounds for expulsion.65
Administrators at Tashkent State University sometimes falsely asserted that these students had missed more than the acceptable number of classes and used this claim as a pretext for their expulsion. The case of first-year student Zafar Mamiev, an active member of a core group of strictly observant students, stands as a possible example of this. University officials branded Mamiev a religious extremist, called him a "Wahhabi" to his face, compelled him to shave his beard, and then expelled him for allegedly missing more classes than permissible under university rules. Human Rights Watch did not have access to school records to confirm or refute the university's allegations that Mamiev's absences numbered more than the thirty allowed. Circumstances, however, suggest that alleged absences did not motivate his expulsion. Fellow students took serious issue with the university's charges of poor attendance. In January 1998, classmates wrote to the rector of the university in support of Mamiev and stated that he had not missed as many class hours as the administration charged. One of the university deans reportedly responded by calling the students into his office and compelling them to write a second statement agreeing with the university position.66
Institute for Oriental Studies
The leadership of the Institute for Oriental Studies employed tactics similar to those used at Tashkent State University to justify expulsions and break down real or potential student solidarity. Students from the institute pointed to an official government policy of discrimination against religious students. They claimed that as early as September 1997, through oral instructions to the institute, the presidential administration issued new regulations on the appearance of students, forbade the wearing of Islamic dress on campus, and discouraged conferring diplomas on observant Muslim students.67
Again, university officials themselves made it clear that religious clothing was objectionable because of what it represented and the ideas it was seen as communicating. When asked how he could tell who was a "Wahhabi," for instance, the rector of the Institute for Oriental Studies said, "It is not only an appearance. I can tell by how they talk, their conversation."68
Umida Asimova and Dilfuza Turdieva, both in their fifth year of university, were expelled just prior to the scheduled receipt of their diplomas, of which they were then denied. 69 On May 20, 1998, just two weeks after Asimova and Turdieva filed a civil suit against the university for readmission, administrators called a meeting of all the pious Muslim students in the institution. According to Asimova and Turdieva, who spoke with students present at the meeting, several students with low marks were reportedly targeted by the administration and told that if they did not write statements denouncing fellow students Turdieva and Asimova, then the students at the meeting would also be expelled. A number of students and eight teachers reportedly wrote letters critical of Turdieva and Asimova, which were then pre-dated to appear as if they had been written early in April, before the young women had been expelled.70
Officials at the institute and elsewhere also harassed and punished openly religious students by stopping payment on their student stipends. Asimova and Turdieva reported that their stipends were cut off as early as the fall of 1996.71 The then head of the Islamic studies department told them that this step was taken specifically because of their religious dress.72 By denying religious students financial support, administrators made it difficult for many students, particularly those from poor families or rural areas, to remain in school and graduate.
University administrators sometimes became violent or fiercely intimidating while scolding or dismissing religious students. Raikhona Hudaberganova reported that on March 15, 1998, she was officially expelled; Prorector Obidov slapped her hand away as she reached out to receive her expulsion order. He yelled at her, she said, but then stated, "If you take your scarves off, you will be immediately readmitted." She refused, and he reportedly stormed out without giving her a copy of the order.73 Subsequently, Prorector Obidov met Hudaberganova on the stairs and, seeing her in hijab and headed toward an area where students were praying (despite his orders to them to cease), he pushed her and shouted "What are you doing here? Go home!"74 In a separate incident, Hudaberganova had gone to meet Obidov to ask him to stop calling her parents, who had become extremely frightened for their daughter'ssafety. Hudaberganova recalled that, "As soon as I came into his office, he insulted my dress, he did not even listen to me, but burst out with abuse...[he] compared the girls wearing hijab to indecent girls, to street-walkers, and I regretted his words and left the room."75 In June 1998, Hudaberganova lost her civil suit for reinstatement.76
Hudaberganova also reported that she and a fellow student came under pressure from N. Solikhova, the former chair of Islamic Studies at the Institute for Oriental Studies.77 According to Hudaberganova, Solikhova instructed the young women not to come to the university in hijab. When they persisted in wearing this form of Muslim dress, Solikhova cursed at the young women and locked them in the office of the Islamic Studies department for the duration of the lecture.78
University administrators pressured male students with beards into shaving in order to continue with their education. At the Institute for Oriental Studies, Dean Tojiev of the Economics Department called into his office a young man who wore a beard for religious reasons and reportedly forced the student to shave.79
The institute's administration also intimidated students who wanted to pray on campus. About one hundred male students and thirty female students reportedly prayed every day. In September 1997, students returning to the institute found that the room they had used the previous year for prayer had been changed into a study hall and was no longer available as prayer space. The closure forced religious students to pray primarily in the school basement, where conditions were apparently less than optimal.80
On September 15, students delivered to the rector a statement, signed by 123 fellow students, asking for a place to pray on campus. One or two days later, several of the students who had signed the petition were called in by the respective deans of their departments and questioned about the statement. One student recounted that in one such conversation the dean of his department threatened him with expulsion for his alleged involvement in writing the statement, and called him a "Wahhabi." The dean also informed the student that highly placed government officials knew of his activism.81 The young man said he responded to the dean, "I explained that I was not against the government and not a Wahhabi and that everyone wants a place to pray."82
In February, the administration closed the basement to prayer. When the approximately thirty female students who prayed every day tried to find another place to pray, Prorector Obidov reportedly harassed them. Raikhona Hudaberganova recalled:
When asked by Human Rights Watch about students' right to pray at the institute, Rector Ibrohimov dismissed students' concerns as sensationalism: "These people were praying near the men's toilet on the second floor, which was easy to see and when asked about it, they said `ah-ha, see, we cannot pray here.' So, they just wanted to cause a scandal."84
Tashkent State Technical University
Government pressure on Tashkent State Technical University (formerly the Polytechnical Institute) has been particularly intense. High-level government officials reportedly paid a series of personal visits there with the apparent purpose of delivering an oral command to dismiss students with beards and headscarves from universities. In early January 1998, a deputy prime minister visited the rector and prorector of that institution. Student Aziz Azizov reported that teachers from the Technical University told him it was at this meeting that the deputy prime minister ordered the university administration to expel students with beards from the university. He said that at least one fellow student and possibly as many as ten were forced to shave their beards within weeks of the deputy prime minister's visit.85 Just months later, in March 1998, three male students from Tashkent State Technical University are known to have succumbed to pressure to shave off their beards. One of them, Hashim Hashimov, recalled, "Three of us had beards and have shaved them off...The dean invited us for one-on-one conversations, those of us who had beards, [and said], `Here is the order: you shave off the beard or you will be expelled.'"86 Only one student refused to shave his beard and he was reportedly expelled from the university as a consequence, as were two female students who wore hijab.87
Azizov, one of the Technical University students who complied with the order, told Human Rights Watch that the university officials had forced him to shave his beard once before, in 1996. The assistant dean of the university reportedly told him at that time that the prorector had forbidden beards on campus. The prorector himself reportedly told the student not to bother appealing to the university rector because, "he doesn't like Muslims with beards."88 The assistant dean repeatedly mentioned the university code of conduct as a basis for ordering the young man to shave.89
Azizov grew his beard again in 1998 after moving to a new university building and believing that the new dean supervising his studies might not object.90 However, during a one-week period in January 1998, the dean of his department told him three or four times to shave his beard. The student recalled, "When I asked what would happen if I didn't shave, the dean said I would be expelled."91 The dean told him that this was the policy of the university,on orders from the government. The dean also explained that part of the reason this student was being ordered to shave was that he was from Namangan. According to Azizov, the dean said, "There are a lot of `Wahhabis' from Namangan and you are from Namangan, so maybe you are a `Wahhabi' too and you must shave your beard." The young man shaved his beard, but said that the experience left him feeling sad and "abused."92
At the end of 1997, the administration of Tashkent State Technical University closed the prayer space in dormitories that had been made available for students to pray.93 According to one religious student, many students there wanted to pray during the school day, but a majority of them gave up because there was no opportunity to pray on campus.94 While there was no written policy prohibiting prayer at the university, it was forbidden in practice. The university dean who had forced Azizov to shave his beard reportedly also told this student outright that prayer was forbidden at the university.95 Teachers who "caught" students praying scolded them and asked them to stop. No students were reported as having been punished for praying, however, and some continued to worship in secret.96
The Pediatric Medical Institute
Rector Damin Asadov of the Pediatric Medical Institute in Tashkent told Human Rights Watch that he had expelled students because of their religious dress. According to fellow students, after university officials at the Pediatric Institute voiced objection to men wearing beards at the Institute, two of the three bearded students shaved. Rashid Kulamov and Ramatjon Sharshiev, both fifth-year medical students, shaved their beards on May 30, 1998.97 The third student, Murat Kholbekov, kept his beard.98 Then, early on the morning of June 1, 1998, Rector Asadov gathered approximately fifty of the observant Muslim students in the institute and instructed them to cease wearing religious attire or risk expulsion. It was reported to Human Rights Watch that on the same day, Iunusabad district police detained Murat Kholbekov while he was in the vicinity of Kokandash Mosque. Police reportedly took Kholbekov to the Iunusabad police office, forced him to shave his beard, and then released him.99
Rector Asadov's justifications for the expulsions varied. At first, the rector stated that the expulsions he ordered were based in part on the university's code of conduct and the law on freedom of conscience, which he took from his desk to show Human Rights Watch and said: 100
Alternatively, Rector Asadov suggested that the young female students posed a danger to the general student population: "How can I be sure that with the [headscarves]...they are not terrorists?"102
Rector Asadov also claimed that "It is unsanitary to wear scarves in the clinic and operation theater" and that "When children see women in all black dress and only open eyes [with only their eyes uncovered], they get frightened and refuse to be in contact with them."103 He added that, "Even with a scarf and uncovered face, one cannot come to the clinic because we work with children who are weak and sick."104 Acknowledging that he had expelled students because they wore beards, Rector Asadov commented, "When [the beard] was short, okay, but when it was long like a goat, the children were frightened. It's not a mosque, it's a hospital." He further stated categorically, "Men with beards cannot study here." He gave no scientific or even anecdotal evidence to substantiate his claims.105
Students expelled from the Pediatric Medical Institute suggest that Rector Asadov's decisions were in fact due overwhelmingly to his concern about being seen as complying with the orders of his superiors in government to expel religious students. One student told Human Rights Watch about her conversation with Rector Asadaov: "The rector said that people from Oliy Majlis (parliament) told him that this is the law and that if he does not follow the law, he will have to answer to those who wrote the law."106
According to some students, some instructors supported the institute's religious students, but feared retribution for exhibiting open support. Teachers and a dean told students that if the rector reversed his order to block females in hijab from attending classes, they would let the students back into the classroom.107
Fergana State University
Administrators at Fergana State University employed various methods to force out religious Muslim women. In the spring of 1998, eight students from the philology department-Dilbar Tarkhanova, Savkat Yuldasheva, Sayora Imamova, Feruza Boboeva, Dilshod Kasilova, Munira Nazrullaeva, Gilbar Abdurashidova, and Narguza Hasmatova-were put under intense pressure by the teaching staff and administration to remove their headscarves.108 Five of the students-Dilbar Tarkhanova, Sayora Imamova, Feruza Boboeva, Munira Nazrullaeva, and Savkat Yuldasheva-accused Dean Sharafiddinov himself of having sabotaged their internships at an elementary school, where they had worked as teaching assistants. The students had learned from the school director that Dean Sharafiddinov had allegedly called the director of the school and threatened to hold him responsible if he did not bar the five students from the elementary school's classrooms.109
Administrators at Fergana State University also allegedly used student stipends as a means of coercing students to comply with the university dress code. Fergana State University students Munira Nazrullaeva and Gilbar Abdurashidova suddenly stopped receiving stipends in the spring of 1998, reportedly because of the administration's objection to their dress.110 When questioned by students, Professor Salijanov reportedly told them that they would have to remove their scarves before the question of their stipends could be resolved.111
Munira Nazrullaeva also reported that Professor Salijanov erased from the school records the grades she and Sayora Imamova had already received and marked them absent for classes they had attended. After the young women apparently refused to remove their headscarves, Professor Salijanov denied them grades for the course. Dean Sharafiddinov of the philology department then forced the students to leave the campus, barring them from classes.112 Human Rights Watch has not had access to the attendance and grade records. However, Professor Salijanov's alleged remarks in March 1998 to the students that they could take "make up" exams provided they first removed their scarves, strongly suggest that headscarves-and not grades or absences-motivated the dismissals.113
Rector Abdullaev's alleged statements further suggest that the real motivation behind the university's actions was to get rid of those in religious dress. According to Gilbar Abdurashidova, in April 1998, she was stopped by the Women's Committee chairperson, Mahbuba Karimova, near the library. Karimova threatened to have her barred from the library and told her, "By covering your head with a scarf, you have embarrassed me, too."114 They were then joined by Rector Abdullaev who allegedly said to Abdurashidova, "What kind of shameless girl are you to still go around covering your head like that?....Okay, now a decree will be issued and you all will be suspended from studying." Karimova then added, "Go and tell the other girls what I've said and about your suspensions from school."115
A fellow student at Fergana State University reported that all seven of the religious women in the philology department received orders of suspension. Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm this independently. However, according to documents provided by the philology students, on May 6, 1998, the university posted a notice that at least four of the students-Munira Nazrullaeva, Sayora Imamova, Feruza Boboeva, and Dilshod Kasilova-were suspended for having missed too many classes, failed course exams, and failed to complete their internships.116 The students denied, however, that they had missed classes as claimed or been absent for exams. They contended that they were not given grades for the exams and courses they had attended and for which they completed work.117 Munira Nazrullaeva claimed that she and other suspended students had excellent attendance records and had, in fact, studied with "great interest and enthusiasm."118 She stated, "If the teacher were just and honest when he gave us exams, we would have certainly passed all our courses and received our stipends. What hurts us most is that he is not even grading us but just counting us as absent."119
Fergana State University student Nilufar Ermatova was first called to the office of the dean of the history department when she began to wear full hijab, with her face covered, instead of only a headscarf, in November or December of 1997. She stated that the dean and several of her professors told her to stop wearing this clothing in theclassroom. One professor reportedly shouted at her, telling her to take off her scarf. In a written statement, Ermatova recalled, "This hurt me very much. After that event, I began taking off my scarf during the class."120 She continued to wear it on campus, outside the classroom, however.
This did not diffuse the administration's hostility toward her and other observant Muslim students, however. In December 1997, the university administration prevented Ermatova, and several other female students who wore headscarves from attending some classes and dismissed them from other classrooms. Ermatova alleged that the head of the philology department, Dean Sharafiddinov, was verbally abusive toward them and that the head of the Women's Committee, Mahbuba Karimova, along with Prorector Vasilya Karimova called them in to special sessions to discuss their dress.121 Again, they were asked to choose between their education and their religious belief. As a compromise, the students agreed to wear floral-patterned scarves, traditional in Uzbekistan, in place of the solid black or white ones. However, their attire was still seen as hijab and the harassment persisted.
Despite university officials' reprimands and threats of National Security Service (formerly the KGB) involvement, Ermatova continued to wear hijab on campus. She was told she should write a petition declaring that she had quit her studies. She refused, saying she had every intention of remaining at the university and studying. The dean then threatened to issue a decree for her expulsion if she returned to campus in hijab. As of her April 14 written statement, however, she had not received any official expulsion notice.122
Although Ermatova did not remove her religious clothing, the intense pressure put on students was generally effective. Of twenty-two female students at Fergana State University who are known to have covered their heads, eleven reportedly removed their headscarves after being harassed and intimidated by the administration.123 Students from the history department of Fergana State University, like those in the philology department, were also reportedly called out of class for repeated intimidating conversations with university officials and repeated scoldings. According to Ermatova, this pressure led one student, Dildora Ikramova, to begin wearing her scarf in the "Uzbek style," tied at the back of her neck and leaving only part of her head covered. She was praised and allowed to return to class.124
The dean of the history department reportedly used Dildora Ikramova's case to intimidate other students. When Ikramova succumbed to pressure and altered her dress, the dean reportedly responded by putting even more pressure on the students who remained in religious clothing. He called them into his office repeatedly and told them that they must take off their headscarves in order to be allowed to study. Dean Sharafiddinov of the philology department and the deputy dean came to the homes of some students to convince them to remove their headscarves. When this act of intimidation proved unsuccessful, the dean of the history department told them, "If you all come to school [with] your headscarves taken off, you will be allowed to study. If not, you will be suspended."125
In at least one case, university administrators simply prevented a student from taking exams and then expelled her for having failed to pass them. This happened to Rano Yusupova, a fourth-year student at the Fergana State University, during the final exam period in the spring of 1998.126 According to members of the Committee forthe Protection of Individuals, a registered Uzbek human rights group, the university's prorector insisted that Yusupova remove her scarf and, when she did not, the prorector announced that the student had failed an exam and thus would be expelled. As of July 1998, Yusupova reportedly had not received an official expulsion order from the university.127
Academics have been punished for even casual contact with so-called Wahhabis. At an institution of higher education in the Fergana Valley, the director of one of the university's departments was reportedly demoted from director to teacher after he met with several "Wahhabis." Persons familiar with the situation said that the former director was too afraid to talk to Human Rights Watch about the specific circumstances of his demotion.128 Human Rights Watch learned that at least one other professor at this institute was offered an ultimatum to either shave or lose his job, and that other professors in Tashkent were reportedly under pressure from administrators to shave their beards.129
Primary and Secondary Schools
Human Rights Watch has independently confirmed the expulsion of two primary school students and received credible reports of four expulsions from a secondary school, all in Tashkent, because of their religious attire. Because informants are typically afraid to reveal cases of abuse for fear of retaliation, it is possible that the actual number of expulsions of students at the primary and secondary level is higher.
The mother of a primary school student reported that in May 1998 her daughter and niece were both expelled from a school in Tashkent for wearing headscarves. The two students, aged eight and nine, attended school each day wearing white headscarves, with their faces uncovered. In May 1998, a teacher at the school asked the girls to remove their scarves when on campus, but they continued to come to class in their religious clothing. Four or five days after the teacher issued the warning, the director of the primary school expelled the girls, but did not give their parents an official expulsion order.130
The mother of one of the expelled girls and other relatives informed Human Rights Watch that at least two or three girls in each grade were dismissed from the primary school because of religious dress.131 Because the families of girls expelled from this and other schools in Tashkent were reportedly too afraid to meet with Human Rights Watch, their cases could not be confirmed.132 The father of one schoolgirl in Tashkent reportedly decided to compel his daughter to remove her scarf as school officials had ordered, because he feared that were he to confront school administrators, they would call in the SNB and fabricated charges would be brought against him.133
Similar accounts of school-age girls being expelled for wearing religious scarves were reported in cities in the Fergana Valley, including Kokand and Fergana City.134 Four female students in the ninth and tenth grades were reportedly expelled from one high school in Tashkent for wearing traditional Islamic dress.135
Secondary and primary school administrators themselves appeared to be under a good deal of pressure from higher authorities in government and regional educational boards. One young secondary school teacher in Tashkent reported that, under pressure from the principal, she removed her headscarf before going to work each day. Nevertheless, the school administration reportedly would not tolerate an openly religious instructor at the school and in the spring asked her to take a "holiday." As of May 1998, she was unemployed.136 Human Rights Watch has received numerous other credible reports of primary- and secondary-school teachers being banned from wearing religious headscarves at work and being fired as punishment for doing so.
The director of one secondary school in Tashkent voiced her fear that her superiors would punish her if she were openly to discuss the treatment of observant Muslim students at her school.137 While Human Rights Watch did not receive any reports of educational or other government officials having reprimanded or fired any school directors for actions related to these students, it is possible that other forms of intimidation or simply the directors' fears kept them in line with government policy.
The pressure on school administrators is reflected in their choices to take extreme measures to force student compliance on headscarves. One teacher who worked at the Tashkent area secondary school mentioned above, where the children range in age from seven to sixteen, reportedly informed an Uzbek human rights organization that the director of that school violently pushed a young female student in a headscarf, leaving the girl in tears.138 The director of the school, however, claimed she had supported students with headscarves. She refused to elaborate on her treatment of religious students or give Human Rights Watch a copy of the school's dress code.139 While the merits of the claim that she had pushed the student were not clear, it was apparent that this director regarded herself as operating under great pressure from the government.
The director claims she was concerned that Human Rights Watch had not obtained permission from senior authorities to speak with her and declined to answer specific questions regarding the treatment of religious Muslim students at the school. "I am only a young director and I am inexperienced and I may be questioned later on and I am scared," she offered as explanation for her silence.140 The school director further articulated her fear of punishment by higher authorities, saying, "If I say something wrong, I will be charged."141
But the father of another young girl threatened with dismissal, who asked to remain anonymous, displayed anger at the government's infringement on his prerogatives as a parent:
[M]y young daughter is being told to remove her scarf at school. She is seven years old. She said she wouldn't remove it, and the teacher said she can't study... .I am not being allowed to bring up my children the way I want. I am not going to raise them the way Karimov wants.142
53 For example, students at teachers' colleges and in the humanities typically are required to teach a course in their chosen field at a local secondary school.
54 See above, The "Uzbek Way" for the distinction between what is considered acceptable and unacceptable headgear. In general, Human Rights Watch finds the demand that medical students maintain certain hygienic standards persuasive. However, against the backdrop of an overwhelming pattern of punishment of students for wearing headscarves as a religious symbol, Human Rights Watch believes the burden of proof is on the individual medical institutes to demonstrate that wearing headscarves poses an imminent health threat. Moreover, medical institutes must notify the students in advance of matriculation of the consequences for violating the health code and provide a fair appeals process to review any student grievances resulting from expulsions.
55 Human Rights Watch interview with Raikhona Hudaberganova, Tashkent, June 14, 1998. Two female students from Tashkent State University told Human Rights Watch that they were evicted from university housing on March 31 along with six other female students expelled for religious dress. They told Human Rights Watch, "Members of the university administration came to the dormitory and kicked us out." Human Rights Watch interview with students from Tashkent State University, names withheld, Tashkent, May 23, 1998. Rector Asadov of the Pediatric Medical Institute acknowledged this policy. Referring to the female students he had expelled just days before, he said, "They are expelled, so they cannot live in the dormitory. We will not kick them out on the street. We will give them one week." Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Asadov, Tashkent, June 3, 1998.
56 In Uzbekistan's highly authoritarian political system, the government dictates policy to, and closely monitors, the actions of all state agencies and employees, including university and school administrators. There are no private institutions of higher education in Uzbekistan, and university and institute rectors answer directly to the Ministry of Higher Education and are responsible for carrying out directives issued by that ministry.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 27, 1998.
59 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 27, 1998.
60 Human Rights Watch interview with students from Tashkent State University, names withheld, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
61 Human Rights Watch interview with Elyor Toshboev, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
62 Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Turabek N. Dolimov, Tashkent, May 25, 1998.
65 Human Rights Watch interview with students from Tashkent State University, names withheld, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
67 Human Rights Watch interview with Umida Asimova and Dilfuza Turdieva, Tashkent, May 23, 1998; and Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, June, 1998.
68 Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Nematullo Ibrohimov, Tashkent, May 1998.
69 The two were expelled with only three exams left to pass to earn their diplomas. Human Rights Watch interview with Umida Asimova and Dilfuza Turdieva, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
71 Human Rights Watch interview with Umida Asimova and Dilfuza Turdieva, Tashkent, June 11, 1998.
72 Human Rights Watch interview with Umida Asimova and Dilfuza Turdieva, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
73 Human Rights Watch interview with Raikhona Hudaberganova, Tashkent, June 14, 1998. Rector Nematullo Ibrohimov ordered Hudaberganova expelled as of March 15, 1998, but did not show her the document until March 25. Human Rights Watch interview with Raikhona Hudaberganova, Tashkent, June 14, 1998. Rector Nematullo Ibrohimov signed the expulsion order, document no. C-21, on March 16, 1998.
75 Letter from Raikhona Hudaberganova to Minister of Higher Education Okil Solimov, April 13, 1998, translated from Uzbek. In what appeared to be an attempt to coerce Hudaberganova to comply with the institute's dictates, Prorector Obidov had also imperiled Hudaberganova's father's standing at work, when he reportedly called her father's colleagues and told them that Hudaberganova was "interfering in the policy of Uzbekistan." Letter from Raikhona Hudaberganova to Minister of Higher Education Solimov, April 13, 1998, translated from Uzbek.
76 Hudaberganova brought a civil suit against the Institute for Oriental Studies in June 1998. In response, the institute petitioned the Mirabad District Court, which heard the civil suit, to have administrative charges brought against Hudaberganova under article 14 of the law on freedom of conscience. The court dismissed the institute's claim as groundless. See above, "Domestic Laws and Regulations."
77 The name of Hudaberganova's classmate has been withheld.
78 Letter from Raikhona Hudaberganova to Minister of Higher Education Okil Solimov, April 13, 1998, translated from Uzbek.
79 Human Rights Watch interview with a fellow student, name withheld, Tashkent, June 1998.
80 According to one male student who resorted to praying in the basement, "the university workers walked on the prayer rug with their shoes....the basement was very cold in the winter." Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, June 1998.
81 See: "Intimidation and Threats of Arrest."
82 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, June 1998.
83 Human Rights Watch interview with Raikhona Hudaberganova, Tashkent, June 14, 1998.
84 Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Nematullo Ibrohimovich Ibrohimov, Tashkent, May, 1998.
85 Human Rights Watch interview with Aziz Azizov, a student from Tashkent State Technical University, July 1998.
Aziz Azizov is not his real name. The student could not name the deputy prime minister.
86 Human Rights Watch interview with Hashim Hashimov, Tashkent, May 27, 1998. Hashim Hashimov is not his real name.
87 Human Rights Watch interview with Aziz Azizov, Tashkent, July 1998.
90 For reasons of the student's security, Human Rights Watch has declined to identify the administrator and university department involved in this incident.
91 Human Rights Watch interview, Tashkent, July 1998.
92 Ibid. Those students who remained bearded even after having been chastised and threatened by academic authorities were vulnerable to arbitrary police abuse. Bearded students, like other men with beards in Uzbekistan, were often targeted by police for detention and forced to shave. See below, "Intimidation and Threats of Arrest."
93 Human Rights Watch interview, Tashkent, May 27, 1998.
94 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 1998.
95 Ibid. The name of the dean and his department have been withheld to protect the safety of the student.
97 Pseudonyms have been used in place of these students' real names in the interest of their safety.
98 A pseudonym has been used here to protect this student's safety.
99 Human Rights Watch interview with Nodira Khojaeva, Mamlakat Monsurava, and Dilora Bainazarova, Tashkent, June 1, 1998.
100 Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Damin Asadov, Tashkent, June 2, 1998.
101 Human Rights Watch interview with Rector Damin Asadov, Tashkent, June 3, 1998.
106 Human Rights Watch interview with Nodira Khojaeva and Mamlakat Monsurava, Tashkent, June 3, 1998.
107 Human Rights Watch interview with Nodira Khojaeva and Mamlakat Monsurava, Tashkent, June 3, 1998; and with Nodira Khojaeva, Mamlakat Monsurava, and Dildora Bainazarova, Tashkent, June 1, 1998.
108 Pseudonyms have been used in place of these students' real names, in the interest of their safety.
109 Written statement to Dean Sharafiddinov from Munira Nazrullaeva (a pseudonym), May 7, 1998, translated from Uzbek.
110 Ibid. Gilbar Abdurashidova is also a pseudonym.
113 Written statement of Munira Nazrullaeva, March 25, 1998, translated from Uzbek.
114 Written statement of Gilbar Abdurashidova (a pseudonym), April 14, 1998, translated from Uzbek. The Women's Committee is an official government body.
116 Written statement of Munira Nazrullaeva (a pseudonym), May 7, 1998, translated from Uzbek. While this statement names only four students as having met with Dean Sharafiddinov regarding their suspension, the day after the official posting, it is possible that other philology students were also named in the order. In addition, later in her statement, Nazrullaeva complains, "We, the six girls, were not given any grades." It is therefore possible that six students were named in the suspension order.
Another religious student from the philology department of Fergana State University, Farida Halikova, was expelled in the spring/summer 1998. She had matriculated at the university after her expulsion from the Institute of Oriental Studies. Human Rights Watch interview with Farida Halikova, Tashkent, December 18, 1998. See: "Nowhere to Turn: Obstacles to Remedies."
117 Written statement of Munira Nazrullaeva (a pseudonym), May 7, 1998, translated from Uzbek.
120 Written statement of Nilufar Ermatova (a pseudonym), April 14, 1998, translated from Uzbek. A pseudonym has been used in place of this student's real name.
121 Ermatova reported that, in one instance, prorector Karimova herself removed a scarf from the head of a female student from the Geology department during a lecture. Written statement of Nilufar Ermatova.
122 Written statement of Nilufar Ermatova.
124 Ibid. A pseudonym has been used in place of the second student's real name.
126 Members of the Committee for the Protection of Individuals referred to Yusupova as a student of the Pedagogical Institute of Fergana, the former name of Fergana State University. Human Rights Watch interview, Murat Zahidov, Chairmanof the Committee for the Protection of Individuals, Tashkent, July 7, 1998.
127 Ibid. Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm independently Yusupova's expulsion; however, we regard this report as credible given the source of the information and the consistency of the alleged actions of the university officials with those of other academic leaders documented by Human Rights Watch.
128 The name of the university and the city in which it is located have been withheld to protect the former director discussed here. Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Fergana Valley, May 1998.
129 Human Rights Watch interview with Mikhail Dmitrivich Ardzinov, Tashkent, May 1998.
130 Human Rights Watch interview with one of the students' mothers, name withheld, Tashkent, June 20, 1998. The names of the two primary school students have been withheld in the interest of their safety and the safety of their families.
131 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, June 20, 1998; and Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 5, 1998.
133 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 27, 1998.
134 Human Rights Watch interviews, names withheld, Kokand, May 1998.
135 From a document compiled by religious students, provided to Human Rights Watch, authors' names withheld, June 1998; and Human Rights Watch interview with local human rights activist, name withheld, Tashkent, July 1998. The names of the students listed in the document have been withheld in the interest of their safety.
136 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 1998. The source of this information spoke personally with the teacher.
137 Human Rights Watch interview with school director, Tashkent, July 1998. Human Rights Watch has withheld the name of the director and her school.
138 Human Rights Watch interview with local rights monitor, name withheld, Tashkent, May 23, 1998.
139 Human Rights Watch interview with school director, Tashkent, July 1998.
142 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 27, 1998.