Detainees' allegations of torture are on the rise in Uzbekistan. Torture victims may be those suspected of committing ordinary crimes, or those accused of such political crimes as membership in banned political or religious organizations, or crimes having to do with the victims's alleged religious beliefs or activities. As the government's arrest campaign against independent Islam has intensified, highly credible accounts of torture have multiplied. Dozens of substantiated accounts describe torture in police custody-as law enforcement agents seek to coerce confessions and testimony against third parties-and in post-conviction facilities, where they seek to punish, humiliate, or merely break the will of those convicted on political or religious grounds, and to obtain testimony against others as well as additional self-incriminating testimony. Police and security officials use techniques of psychological torture, including the threat of physical violence, either against the detainee or against his or her family members, to coerce testimony. In collusion with local government officials, they orchestrate public humiliation sessions for those accused of political crimes as a form of intimidation.
The Uzbek government's own Initial Report to the United Nations Committee against Torture, confirms that citizens' complaints of police abuse, including physical and psychological ill-treatment, are in fact increasing.20 The report states that "in 1996, the internal affairs [sic] authorities received 155,965 written complaints, or 23,147 more than in 1995."21 No more current figures are provided, nor is it made clear what sorts of offenses these complaints are in reference to. The same document reports that the parliamentary (Olii Majlis) ombudsman received 231 complaints about police misconduct in 1997 and 533 in 1998, and clarifies that "a study of the complaints shows that the most common grievance is the use of physical or mental violence by investigators during the investigation phase."22
Many junctures in the criminal justice process facilitate the practice of torture. Despite the recent introduction of bail, accused persons are with near uniformity held in custody pending trial in pre-trial detention facilities administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (police). Under Uzbek law, criminal investigations can be carried out by either the police, the National Security Service (SNB), or by the procuracy.23 The procuracy is also responsible for ensuring the legality of arrest and detention and of the investigative process; however, the prosecutorial functions ofthe procuracy clearly conflicts with its oversight function. As will be shown below, no effective oversight mechanism exists to check the power of any of these agencies to abuse detainees' basic human rights with impunity.
One of the most chilling pieces of evidence that the use of torture may be increasing is the growing number of reported cases of deaths in pre-trial custody. In 1998-2000, local human rights groups documented at least seven cases of violent deaths in pre-trial detention, the majority of which happened in the first days after the detainee's arrest.24 Although authorities did not cite injuries resulting from physical abuse as the cause of death in any of these cases, physical signs noted by those who viewed the bodies, or in some cases officials' refusal to allow families even to view the bodies, strongly suggest that these persons died from ill-treatment in custody.
Among them was forty-two-year-old Furkhat Usmonov, whom police arrested on June 14, 1999, claiming that he was a suspected member of the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Police first held Usmonov, the son of a well-known imam, in the local district police station, before transferring him to the Tashkent provincial police headquarters, where he was held incommunicado. On June 25, police returned Usmonov's body to his family in the Zangiata district of Tashkent province and cited heart failure as the official cause of death. Human Rights Watch representatives who viewed the body as it was being prepared for burial noted apparent signs of torture, including large contusions and cuts on the face, chest, and other areas of the body.25
Torture is not confined to pre-conviction facilities. Abuses and subsequent deaths in post-conviction prisons and labor camps are reported by an increasing number of witnesses. Both those convicted of simple criminal offenses and those sentenced for political crimes may experience torture while serving their sentences. The forms of ill-treatment of political and religious prisoners reported by witnesses to Human Rights Watch seem intended to humiliate, to break the will of prisoners to resist their captors, and to punish them specifically for their religious beliefs.26 Ill-treatment is also used to force these prisoners to incriminate others. Convicted prisoners have increasingly been used in court cases as witnesses for the prosecution. In addition, ill-treatment is used to force already convicted prisoners to further incriminate themselves, with some being brought up on new charges and sentenced to new terms of up to twenty-five years. Abuses are reported with particular frequency by inmates of the special labor colony located outside of the settlement of Jaslyk, in the Karakalpak Autonomous Province.27 The government reportedly ordered the construction of this prison in late 1998, in order to contain the increasing number of independent Muslims convicted on the basis of their religious activities.28
Family members of prisoners who requested anonymity recounted to Human Rights Watch their relatives' accounts of inhumane treatment in the Jaslyk camp. "The first month when we got here, they beat me all the time. They beat people to death. One man died in my arms. Several men have already died. Twenty men beat us with nightsticks," one prisoner recounted to his relatives, who cautioned Human Rights Watch that their relative remained at risk, since "guards warned [him] not to tell anyone or else he would die."29 The Jaslyk facility is not the only onewhere religious prisoners face particularly harsh abuse: Munnevar Hasanov, a seventy-year old pious Muslim sentenced to three years in prison for anti-state activity, recounted to witnesses the beatings inflicted on him and other religious inmates at Karshi prison.30 One woman who visited her husband in Navoi prison recounted that "He said they will kill you if you pray here-they don't allow it."31
This physical abuse of religious prisoners has led to a number of deaths in post-conviction facilities. Azim Khojaev, the father of several men sought by police on religious and political grounds, was arrested on April 4, 1999. He was sentenced to eight years in prison on June 11 on charges of narcotics possession, in a trial that lasted for one-half hour, and transferred to the Jaslyk labor colony to serve his term. On July 13 police returned his body to his family; a death certificate stated the cause of death as "acute failure of the left stomach," and gave the date of death as July 2.32 The secrecy with which police transported the body and the care with which they supervised the burial rites all suggest that Khojaev died from ill-treatment in custody. One source close to the case recounted that when police brought the body to the house, "none of the relatives were shown the body, which was wrapped in a quilt. The police themselves washed the body with one man, a stranger named Ismail. The police refused to let us see the body-they washed it then brought it out immediately for burial."33 Another witness said that he was stopped in the street and not allowed into the neighborhood when he tried to visit the family and attend the funeral. Khojaev's relative continued: "There were many, many police in civilian clothes during the funeral-women and men. There were as many police as relatives. None would answer our questions. The police refused to speak to us, and the mahalla chairman also refused. He [Khojaev] was forty-eight years old."34
Nematjon Karimov died in Navoi prison on March 22. Prison officials provided no death certificate, informing the family orally that he died from kidney, heart, or lung problems. When his family retrieved the body from the town morgue, workers at first refused to let them perform the rite of washing the body for burial, but relented after they were given money. At first, they did not recognize their relative, because the body was covered in blood, but finally identified him from a tattoo on his hand. The top of his head was concave, and there where places where the skull was missing. His face was cut and bruised, and skin was torn off on the right side. To the left of his mouth there was a large scar, while his upper teeth were loose and pointing inwards, and his lower teeth were pointing outwards.35
Forms of Physical Torture
Law enforcement officials in Uzbekistan routinely abuse detainees with physical and psychological torture. Most common are prolonged beatings, involving punching, kicking, or blows with billy clubs or other implements. Other methods include asphyxiation through the use of gas masks or plastic bags, electric shock, burning, cutting, sexual violence, and denial of food or water. Police commonly combine physical ill-treatment with threats-of further abuse, and of abuse of members of the detainee's family to coerce compliance. In political/religious cases, police detain and even torture the relatives of their primary suspects either to force the appearance of the wanted suspect or to coerce testimony.
Uzbek police and security agents use a variety of instruments and techniques in beating detainees. The pattern described by victims usually includes punches and kicks from the initial moments of arrest to frighten and subdue the arrestees' will to resist, and then prolonged beatings to coerce testimony or a confession. The detention of Dmitri Chikunov, twenty nine, illustrates this pattern. Chikunov was arrested and brought to the Tashkent provincial police headquarters on April 17, 1999, and later charged with murder: "Immediately after arrest, even before we arrived at the UVD [police station], one of the operativniks (later I learned that his last name is Grigorian) caught my head in thecar door and kicked me several times in the abdomen. I didn't do anything, even though, as you know, I am able to defend myself.. . . throughout the whole way he beat me with all his might with his fists and elbows..."36 Chikunov, in letters he wrote to his mother from prison, described being tortured for several days until he was coerced into confessing to a murder charge; his abuse, however, continued even after he confessed. He was convicted of the murder and executed in July 2000.
Police beatings may start from the moment a suspect is in the police car on the way to the station. A human rights activist described how police assaulted him on September 3, 1998:
I was walking down the street. Four men stopped me, and one of them was [a police officer, name withheld]. I've known him since 1996, and I wanted to greet him, so I held out my hand, but he grabbed it and immediately twisted my arm and pushed me into a car. As soon as we were in the car, a guy in the front seat grabbed me by the hair and started to punch me in the head, while two guys who sat on either side of me in the back seat were punching me in the sides all the way to the police station.37
Sometimes, police are more circumspect in their actions and try to minimize obvious marks by avoiding blows to the face and arms. One lawyer who worked for fifteen years as a police investigator described other methods that inflict pain without leaving traces visible to the casual observer, such as beating suspects with wet towels on their sides and back or the soles of their feet.38 Victims described being beaten with cloth bags filled with sand, which they say leave fewer bruises. Others spoke of being beaten around the face and head with plastic soda bottles filled with water.39
Other victims said police routinely concentrate on the kidney area in the small of the back when beating and kicking detainees, thus leaving less bruising visible on the face and arms while potentially causing serious physical damage in the longer term. "Rashid Kadyrov" described the aftereffects of his experience of this torture in 1997, saying "I urinated blood for three days. A bump the size of your fist came up where I'd been hit in the groin. Because of this I cannot urinate normally. I need an operation urgently."40 Mikhail Ardzinov, chairman of the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan, also confirmed police tactics of beating detainees in the kidney area.41 Witnesses also report beatings on the soles of the feet. The body of Numon Saidaminov, who died in pre-trial detention in October 2000, showed extensive bruising on the soles of the feet.42
In some instances, police do not hesitate to leave visible traces of their abuse by beating detainees on the head and face. Three women arrested on charges of transporting narcotics in 1997 reported being subjected to what they describe as "brutal beatings by police." One of them said she was hit on the head and consequently had bruising on one side of her face. A lawyer who had access to the three women reported seeing facial contusions consistent with their allegations.43
Victims consistently said that they were beaten by more than four police or other security officials at a time, although the numbers ranged to as many as twenty. Rashid Karimov tells the following story about how police came to his home in 1995 to detain him on suspicion of burglary. "About twenty police began kicking me in the presence of my small children, one born in 1985, and my six-year-old daughter. I fell down and started calling for help. One of them stomped on my head. They resumed kicking me. My face was all smashed up and bleeding...."44
Maqsudjon Mehmonov, a man in his thirties, was first summoned to his local police station for interrogation about a murder case in 1995. He was held overnight and the following day was beaten and threatened. He was later taken to a detention center in a nearby town, where he continued to maintain his innocence. When the interrogating officer there told his subordinates "If he's hungry, feed him," Mehmonov was taken into a room with nine people in it, where he was beaten and ordered to confess. Later that day, another policeman beat him up in the presence of the police chief, saying "His eyes still haven't been opened yet." Mr. Mehmonov said, "I never imagined anyone could beat someone up or humiliate them so cruelly. They don't beat animals as cruelly as that."45
Several victims reported being hit with wooden poles or bats covered with protruding nails, producing myriad bleeding wounds all over the body.46 One victim described being "punctured with sharp instruments all over my body."47 Most commonly, police use blunt instruments, such as wooden poles, metal pipes, the butt ends of automatic weapons or rifles, or often billy clubs or police truncheons. The standard billy club now used by police in Uzbekistan is approximately fifty centimeters long and made of a stiff rubberized plastic.
"Sergei Fedorov" was detained by police in 1995 and eventually received a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for burglary. It was unclear whether he confessed under coercion, but his mother reported seeing the marks of beatings a few days after his detention, while Federov was still being held at a police station. She told Human Rights Watch that her son had told her the marks were caused by metal bars.
In the [name of town omitted] police station he was beaten all over his body with metal bars. I personally saw the marks of these blows on his arms and rib cage. My son and I were afraid to complain to the police as nothing would have been done and my son would have been beaten even more severely.48
While being beaten, detainees may be handcuffed or otherwise immobilized in postures that give torturers maximum access to sensitive areas of the body, such as the kidneys, genitals, or soles of the feet. One common posture features the victim seated on a stool with wrists handcuffed together under the legs, and knees bent so that the tops of the feet are resting on the floor, exposing the soles.49
Detainees are commonly cuffed to radiators in interrogation rooms, or may have one arm cuffed to a high bar or fixture so that they are unable to sit, bend, or otherwise shield themselves from blows or kicks. Police suspend some victims by their wrists, handcuffed behind their backs, at a height at which their toes may just reach the ground, but victims are unable to put their full weight on their feet.50 Victims are also sometimes suspended by their ankles for extended periods of time while being beaten. According to relatives, in late 1999 district police in Tashkent hung up Ismail Hasanov by the ankles and beat him until he confessed to anti-state crimes.51
SNB officers in Asaka, Andijan, arrested Tavakkaljon Akhmedov on May 15, 1999. His wife recounted that "for five hours that day they questioned him...He refused to confess. After that, the investigator [name withheld] began to beat him. When he began to bleed, the investigator laughed and said, `you must have high blood pressure,' and then beat him some more with his fists, and kicked him..." Akhmedov was then brought to the provincial SNB headquarters, where officers tortured him further. According to his wife, "They hung him by the wrists and bound his legs...."52
Witnesses also recounted police smashing their heads against walls or floors during beatings.53 Groups of officers may pick victims up on a desk or chair at shoulder height and then drop them on the floor, or, as recounted here by Dmitri Chikunov, throw them up and drop them:
[They] fastened my hands behind my back with handcuffs. Then they all took me by my shoulders and legs and started to heave me up and down, until they threw me up towards the ceiling and stepped back. I fell on my back on the floor, and after that I don't remember what happened from the pain. I couldn't speak-it's as if I was paralyzed. They did that four times.
Another witness testified to the same technique. On December 26, 1996, Svetlana Avakian witnessed her son being tortured in the Tashkent police headquarters:
Some young men walked out of the police station, and they said to me "your son Zhorik is being beaten in there." I ran inside, I flew into the investigator's office shouting, "You don't have the right to beat him!" I saw four guys, big brutes, huge, tall Uzbek guys. They were beating him so savagely! They flung him up and he smashed down on the floor. At that moment I ran in and cried that they had no right to beat him. "We have the right to kill him!" And then four men with machine guns threw me out of the police station.54
Police and security officials place gas masks on suspects and close off the breathing tube valve in order to suffocate detainees. Victims may be brought to the verge of unconsciousness; some have reported losing consciousness. The mother of one victim, seventeen-year-old Alijon Hasanov, learned during a meeting with her son that police used a gas mask to torture him, forcing him to confess to narcotics possession.55
Some witnesses have reported that police may sprinkle chemical substances, such as powdered chlorine, in the gas mask tubes to increase the pain inflicted on the victim and accelerate the process of suffocation. Others described police inserting pieces of burning paper into one of the tubes of the gas mask, while closing off the breathing tube, and so being suffocated by the smoke. "I had enough breath for about ten seconds, but then I passed out," one victim recounted.56
In the absence of gas masks, simple plastic shopping bags, dubbed "the bag of death" by some former detainees, are used for the same purpose. When Zinaida Orlova, forty-one, returned from a holiday in the mountains to her home on July 9, 1998, police from Tashkent's Mirzo Ulugbek district arrested her on suspicion of murder. She was brought to the district police station, to the second municipal police department, and to Tashkent police headquarters (GUVD); she recounted how police tortured her in all three places. At one point during her ordeal at the GUVD she told police that due to the lack of air in the cell and her chronic bronchitis, she had trouble breathing. "Then they artificially suffocated me. They put a bag over my head. It happened unexpectedly. I don't know what it was made out of, I didn't see it. Someone came up from behind me and put it over my head. They held it there until I passed out." Police brought her back to consciousness by throwing water on her, and then used the bag again to suffocate her repeatedly, bringing her to by slapping her face.57
Witnesses report the use of electricity to torture detainees during interrogation sessions, particularly by officials of the National Security Service (SNB). Investigators there sometimes utilize an apparatus that generates an electric current and transmits it through electrodes strapped to victims' bodies, usually their heads or fingers.58 Alternatively, they use the main form of commercially available torture equipment, the electric baton, or cattle prod. "Ivan Silaev," a man in his late twenties, described the device SNB officials used during his 1996 interrogation on charges of theft of strategic state property.
Because I hadn't done anything they humiliated me, made threats to get me to talk, and beat me up. They punched me and threatened me. Then one of them, Colonel [name omitted], said if I didn't say what they needed he would use an electric-shock baton on me. I got scared, of course, and started trembling. He pulled it out. It looked like a flashlight, though a bit bigger, in the form of a baton. On one side there were two points and a button.
He put it against my leg and said "will you or won't you talk?" I said "I haven't got anything to say." Then he took it, pressed the button once and gave me an electric shock. It felt like the current was 220 volts or even more... [even] my eyes were jolted. Then they applied it to me a few more times. I said I couldn't say anything specific. They let me go [from the interrogation] until they summoned me the next time. After that my leg hurt a bit in the place where they used the baton. My hands shook for a long time.
Asked to describe the torture in further detail, Silaev said: "Of course it was an unpleasant sensation. Everything shook, and my eyes clouded over. I saw stars, the same as when you get a hard knock to your head; it was the same feeling."59
Another witness attested to the lingering effects of electric shock. Aziza A. was granted permission for a short visit with her son in the first week of October 1998 in the Ministry of Internal Affairs headquarters in Tashkent.
He had a very strange expression on his face...he was very jumpy. I've never seen my son like that before, he was always so relaxed and joyful, he was always smiling. First of all he came in the room, and it was as though he were afraid to come in. He was walking down the corridor and he glanced in, and then he jerked back. I was very surprised, but then I learned in December, when I met him in the Tashkent prison, that he was being tortured with electricity during that week and he couldn't even walk normally.60
Rape and Other Sexual Violence
Police investigators and prisoners working with them commit and threaten to commit acts of sexual violence, including rape and severe beatings to the genital area; this is practiced against both male and female detainees.
Police at the Tashkent GUVD beat Zinaida Orlova in the genital area and constantly threatened her with further sexual violence and gang rape. On the second day after she was detained in July 1998, "They said, `We'll rape you, we'll let everyone have a turn'...They kicked me between my legs. They forced me to sit and spread my legs. While one held me by the hair, the other kicked me between the legs. I remember, he was wearing shoes...I had bruises all over, they were violet."61
Police use sexual violence to degrade and humiliate the detainee in addition to inflicting physical harm. Several interviewees said torturers threatened to use photography to record their abuse and to use degrading photographs tocause further injury to them. Orlova described in detail how police threatened to photograph her while being sexually assaulted:
Then they said they would take a picture of me in a certain way, with one bottle inserted in the front, the other in the back. They said they would send me to prison with this picture as my passport...One man said, "We'll force you to kiss another woman between her legs, we'll grab you by the hair and force you to kiss her between the legs."
All this was accompanied by constant slurs of "bitch," "whore," and other sexually degrading insults.
Similarly, in 1999 police threatened to rape Dmitri Chikunov with a stone implement; they also threatened to send photographs of the violence to prison to incite inmates to further sexual violence against him. Police, directed by investigator Makhamatkulov, went so far as to photograph Chikunov as they attempted to strip him:
Makhamatkulov yelled at everyone, "Beat him, the pederast!" They again began to beat me and kick me with their feet, fists, with truncheons, and I couldn't even resist, because my hands were tied behind my back.
Makhamatkulov was screaming that since I am not married, I must be a pederast, and now they're going to finish (as he put it) the "press conference" and give me what I want, since I am a homosexual (in other words, they would rape me). At the same time he was beating me on the back of the head with a stick in the form of a male sex organ, carved out of stone. They called in a photographer and, while beating me all the while, tried to pull off my pants. I tried to resist in whatever way I could. Then they threw me down on the floor and someone sat on my neck, someone on my arms and someone on my back, shouting: "Now we'll shove this prick up your ass and take a picture, and send it with you to prison. They love guys like you in there!" Then the one who was sitting on my back jumped up and with all his might jumped with both his feet on my spine. The breath was knocked out of me from the pain, and then they dragged off my pants and broke the zipper. But they didn't rape me, just started to beat my legs and feet with their truncheons.62
Detainees are systematically beaten and kicked in the genitals. Dilshod Iskhakov, Mukhammadjon Ibodullaev, and Muzaffar Saitniiazov, who were charged with membership in an illegal religious group, wrote to Human Rights Watch that in August 2000, shortly after their arrest, police beat them in the genitals. Their month-long ordeal took place in the basement of the main Ministry of Internal Affairs building in Tashkent. Saitniiazov added that "as a result of blows below the belt I received numerous traumas and even now I cannot stand up evenly."63
Eyewitnesses described interrogators stripping suspects or forcing them to partially disrobe, and then either stubbing out cigarettes on their exposed flesh, or using cigarette lighters to burn various parts of their bodies, including the genitals. One of the defendants in the trial of fourteen accused "terrorists" claimed at trial that his cellmate was tortured in this fashion: "The women will please pardon me, but they burned his penis during the investigation. He returned to the cell with these marks."64 Mamura Khojimukhamedova gave identical testimony regarding her husband,Okoidin, stating in an open letter that police "burned his groin with a cigarette lighter" in order to compel him to incriminate himself. 65
Police commonly threaten male detainees with rape, usually by fellow inmates who act at the behest of law enforcement officials. One lawyer described the abuse his client faced, noting that it fit a general pattern: "They take them and lead them through the detention center to confinement cells, where they open the viewing window [volchok] and show them ten recidivists waiting there in the cell. You know that you will be raped, so what do you do?"66 "Kadir D." (not his real name), who served a fifteen-day sentence for purported membership in an illegal Islamic organization, confirmed this tactic, relaying that an investigator told him, "You'll be sent to prison and they'll do everything to you there!"67 When police threatened him with rape while in custody, Okoidin Khajimukhamedov attempted suicide by gnawing through the veins on his wrists, according to his own statements to his lawyer, who told Human Rights Watch that she saw his bandaged wrists, as well as signs of extensive beatings.68 Saidjahon Zainabutddinov told of a visit to his youngest son, Mumin, in a prison hospital, where he was confined after a suicide attempt in June 1999. After his arrest on charges of hooliganism, he had been kept in an isolation cell, where he was threatened with rape by other prisoners brought by police into the cell. Mumin Zainabutddinov then tried to commit suicide by swallowing a jagged piece of metal.69
Several persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch witnessed the torture method known as "sitting on a bottle"-the forcible insertion of a glass bottle into the victim's anal passage. Many of the victims interviewed had heard of this method of torture being used, or had been threatened with it; "the bottle" was described with particular anxiety by interviewees, and thus seems to provoke intense psychological suffering. An ethnic Uzbek aged about thirty, "Mahmud Pahlavanov," was beaten on several occasions in 1995 during an investigation on murder and other charges. On one occasion he was being questioned in the investigator's office when police brought in another detainee. They ordered this second man to testify against Pahlavanov. When he refused, "they started beating him up and sat him on the bottle." The man eventually gave the testimony.70
Both women and men displayed extreme reluctance to describe actual instances of rape. Cultural norms of modesty preclude discussion of sexual relations. Standards for female purity render any sexual act outside of marriage, whether voluntary or coerced, an insurmountable blight on a woman's honor; even in cases where assaults on women have taken place, victims and their relatives will most likely not discuss them. Even so, several women whom police detained in order to obtain information on the whereabouts of relatives, to force those relatives to appear, or simply to punish them for the actions of their relatives, indicated that they had been threatened with sexual assault by police.71
Nafisa Aboskhojaeva was arrested in September 1999, as she tried to flee the country one month after her husband, Dilmurad Husanov, was convicted of anti-state crimes and sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment. Before the conviction, police had summoned Aboskhojaeva for questioning several times and threatened her with rape, according to sources close to the family. "They threatened to arrest Nafisa and also to rape her. That was when she decided to run away. They threatened to rape her the first and second time they questioned her. This was officers at the MVD. She herself told us this."72 After Aboskhojaeva's arrest, her lawyer was allowed access to his client only fourteen days after he made his original request, by which time Aboshojaeva herself had already confessed to "anti-state activity." Aboskhojaeva was convicted of anti-state crimes in May 2000.
In the face of intense humiliation and fear, male detainees have provided information about cases of rape in detention. In one instance, Bahodir Musaev recounted during his trial in Tashkent's Iunusabad District Court that hewas raped in his cell by police operatives. His wife and other relatives were present in the courtroom at the time.73 Several defendants convicted in September 2000 on charges of religious extremism described being raped: Ma'rufkhoja Umarov stated that "they stripped me naked, and raped me several times. Then they sat me on the bottle, as a result of which I received several injuries."74 Five of his co-defendants also stated in court that they were raped during interrogation, including Dilshod Sadykov, who testified in court that when he refused to sign a confession written for him by police, operativniks in the MVD headquarters put a bucket on his head after which he was raped by several men.75
Deprivation of Sleep, Food, and Water
Suspects may be denied food, water, and sleep until they agree to cooperate with investigators. Ilkhom Zainabutddinov said he was denied water for two days straight after his arrest on suspicion of theft in July 1997 in Andijan, where summer temperatures are commonly as high as 40 degrees celsius. His father, Saidjahon Zainabutddinov, was present at his son's trial in the city of Andijan, when the latter testified that the second department of the Andijan Municipal Administration for Internal Affairs (GUVD) kept him without water. Ilkhom described to his father repeatedly asking guards for water while in detention only to be laughed at or ignored.76 On April 27, 1998, police in Tashkent's Hamza district detained eighteen-year-old Ruslan Mamin and accused him of murder. He recounted that although his mother had brought him food from home, for six days, until he confessed to the crime, "they gave me no food, they didn't even give me the food my mother brought. I was in the investigator's office all day without food."77
One young man accused of membership in a banned religious organization recounted his ordeal of sleep deprivation to his mother, who spoke to Human Rights Watch: "He told me that no one should be in that position. For ten days they didn't allow him to sleep. He was in the investigator's office all day. At night when he was taken back to his cell, two or more guys were put in there and they didn't allow him to sleep."78
Several victims attested to being confined to tiny punishment cells, the size of which allowed them neither to sit, stand, or lie down, forcing them to crouch in strained positions for hours or even days at a time as they awaited interrogation. Mukhammadjon Ibodullaev, one of fifteen young men tried in Tashkent Provincial Court in August 2000, wrote "...then they locked me into the cell called the `little glass' [stakanchik], which was seventy centimeters by one meter. It was impossible even to sit down there."79
Several witnesses recounted instances in which police used knives to cut and slash the skin of detainees during the course of interrogation. This technique not only inflicts pain and the fear of death, but is implicitly life threatening. One witness recounted seeing slash marks on her brother's throat during a meeting with him in Tashkent prison, one month after his arrest in December 1998.80 Other victims reported that police officials shoved the blades of scissors under their fingernails; bodies of victims who died in detention have been seen by witnesses with missing fingernails, suggesting that they were torn out during torture.81 Victims report having cigarettes stubbed out on various parts of their bodies, or being burned, often on the genitals (see Rape and Sexual Violence, above), by cigarette lighters.
Two women interviewed by Human Rights Watch described separate instances in which police in Tashkent held them in closed rooms filled with cold water up to their knees. The relatives of both women were wanted by police, who used the women as hostages to coerce the wanted men to appear. Both women were held overnight, unable to sit orlie down.82 Another method described by one witness consists of wrapping the victim tightly in a rubber sheet or suit and dousing him alternately with cold and then with hot water.83
In one case, police officials forced two female detainees to undergo abortions, partially as a means to elicit confessions. In July 1995, police arrested twenty-seven-year-old Nadira Khidoiatova, the niece of Uzbekistan's former ambassador to the United States, Babur Malik-oghli (who was granted political asylum in the United States in 1993). Her co-worker, Asia Turaniyazova, was also reportedly taken into custody that same day. Soon after, it is reported, the two women were moved to the cells of the National Security Service.
There, prison officials forced both women to undergo abortions. Khidoiatova was approximately three months pregnant and Turaniyazova already in her fifth or sixth month. According to two relatives who saw Nadira Khidoiatova, law enforcement officials responsible for the case threatened that if she and they did not give formal consent to the abortion, they would take her out of the hospital and perform it anyway and "in worse conditions - someplace you won't find her." Moreover, one SNB investigator reportedly warned them that if anyone brought the arrest and abortions to the public attention "it will be worse for her."84 According to their lawyers, the women were charged with violating article 182 part A of the Customs Code, which forbids the export of animal skins from the Republic of Uzbekistan.
According to their lawyers, whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in separate conversations, both women had been told independently by prison medical personnel that abortions were required for medical reasons-something later disputed. The two women told their lawyers that they had no physical complaints prior to the abortions and did not want to terminate their pregnancies voluntarily.
Individuals familiar with the case believe that this appalling treatment was ordered because Uzbekistan law requires that pregnant women be released pending trial; terminating the pregnancies allows detaining officials to keep the women in custody legally, facilitating efforts to secure confessions. Turaniyazova's attorney reported in September 1995 that she had been informed that her client had admitted guilt following her abortion.85
Psychological Pressure and Cruel and Degrading Treatment
The most prevalent forms of torture in Uzbekistan may be the use of various methods of psychological pressure, intimidation, and threats. Victims widely report the use of threats of physical violence against themselves and members of their families, threats which are often carried out in one form or another. Victims may be made to watch the torture of friends and family members, or of persons unknown to them.
In some cases, police need only detail the methods of torture which may be used against a suspect, in order to induce fear and to obtain a confession or evidence against a third party. Human Rights Watch has gathered testimony from witnesses who, while in detention, were forced to watch police torture other suspects, as a form of psychological pressure against them, and from those who were threatened with death. Also, threats that a detainee's family members will themselves be arrested and tortured constitutes one of the most common forms of psychological torture.86
Police and local government officials are also, with increasing frequency, mobilizing whole communities in order to stigmatize, humiliate, and ostracize those accused of political crimes and their family members.
The case of Mahmud Pahlavanov, described above (see Rape and Other Sexual Violence), is typical of those where detainees are first threatened with torture to elicit confessions or cooperation: "During my conversation with[the colonel] he warned me what tortures could be used on me at the city police department: beatings, hanging by the neck, putting on a gas mask [charged with] ammonium chloride, suffocation with a plastic bag, and sitting down with one's anus on a bottle. I knew from convicts that these tortures would be real ones, and I had no choice but to give false testimony."87 SNB officers in Andijan tortured Tavakkaljon Akhmedov for over two weeks before he confessed to religious extremism charges. According to family members, an SNB investigator asked him "Will you confess or shall we continue with worse torture?" and threatened to cut off his tongue.88
Explicit or implicit threats of torture are an effective means of coercing testimony against another person. One man, interviewed on condition of anonymity, recounted that in March 1999 he went to the police after state officials claimed on television that those who came voluntarily with information about illegal religious activities would not be arrested. SNB officials held him for five days, and then called him back repeatedly to give testimony. During one of his appearances police brought him to a Tashkent prison for the purpose of giving testimony in a confrontational interrogation [ochnaia stavka]:
They showed me two of my friends. They had both been tortured, and looked terrible. They described being beaten. K. said that in the basement of the GUVD he had been beaten until he couldn't stand it...To get information, they [police] use the services of other prisoners working for the GUVD....I already knew that they violated peoples' rights,but I was very afraid for my family after that.89
In 1993, police reportedly beat "Ziyoda Ravshanova" to force her to testify against three men in a rape case. She wrote that in 1995, she was summoned for further questioning by the procuracy, which wanted her to give more evidence to back up the case against the accused men:
They said "We'll write down for you everything that [the three accused] did, and you will confirm it while we record it on video. If you refuse things will go badly for you." I told the prosecution investigator [name omitted] that the guys had not committed this crime. He said that if [one of the accused] did not confess they would plant weapons on him and he'd be forced to confess. "And we will sit you on a bottle and you will agree to it." Of course, he said this without any witnesses around. In order to avoid the bottle I agreed to give the same testimony as I'd given [the original interrogating police officer; name omitted]. When the trial began... a criminal investigations officer came and said, "If you don't sound convincing in court we'll take you down to the basement and do anything we want with you." I was in no state to refuse.90
Detainees may be implicitly or explicitly threatened with death if they refuse to give testimony. Several of the methods described above, including slashing with knives and suffocation, may convince victims that they may well lose their lives due to the lethal risk of these methods. Police have explicitly threatened suspects with murder for their failure to confess. Police told Okoidin Khajimukhamedov, whose case is described above, "If you admit to everything that we tell you, we'll give you food and clothes, and you can sit peacefully in prison. But if you don't cooperate, we'll make it so that you drop dead. And we'll put you in a coffin, and on top we'll place the food that your wife has prepared for you, and that's how we'll send you home."91
One defendant in the trial of ten men accused of membership in a banned Islamic organization recounted the death threats he received in early 2000 during the investigation. The lead investigator for his case, he said, had invoked thename of Furkhat Usmonov, who was tortured to death in 1999 (see above), as he tortured this man as well as his co-defendants. The investigator reportedly said, "`Everyone who has been here has confessed! I had to do a little work on the brains of your teacher Furkhat, too, and as a result a few of his brains leaked out! If you won't confess, a similar death awaits you."92
False "suicide" attempts constitute one scenario sketched out for detainees whom investigators threaten to throw from upper-story windows. Deaths in detention are commonly reported as suicide attempts, or as the result of accidents, such as suspects "falling" from prison bunks or "tripping."93
Dmitri Chikunov described two death threats. In the first, one of his interrogators told him that, "The window is right here and I can `accidentally' fall out, as had happened several times, and then they would write that I committed suicide."94 The second threat was a mock execution, after Chikunov had already confessed, under torture, to murder. A senior investigator, who was present when interrogators attempted to videotape Chikunov's scripted confession, castigated the two officers who had led the interrogation. Chikunov named the two investigators as Grigorian and Makhametkulov in a letter to his mother before his trial, quoted below. The officers then played out a mock execution, in addition to their threats to commit violence against Chikunov's mother, to make him more pliable and convincing on the videotape:
They brought me into the office again . . . They beat me again, yelling that I had "screwed everything up," and that now they would kill me. Then, after conferring, they told me that "now we have no other choice" and that they would "rub me out" in a supposed escape attempt, and you can hang whatever you want on a corpse. They led me . . .out of the building on to the street. A car was waiting there . . . We went to the scene of the crime, and the whole way they were humiliating me, cursing, and saying that they could make one phone call and everything that they threatened before would happen to you . . . I just begged them to leave you alone. When we arrived at the place they brought me out of the car and led me in front of it, with the headlights shining on me, and turned my back to them. One of them walked up to me and I heard him cock the trigger on a pistol. Then, he put the barrel of the gun to the back of my head. I was silent, and I heard `Sasha' make a telephone call and give the command to go find you. I . . . begged them not to touch you. Then they said that from that moment I must act completely according to their commands. I must do everything they told me, and say only that which they told me to ahead of time. I agreed....We all drove back to the UVD.95
Police may detain, arrest, mistreat, or threaten with ill-treatment the relatives of suspects in detention either to coerce the appearance of those wanted by the investigation or to coerce testimony from those in custody. This pattern became especially prominent in the cases of those suspected of terrorism or the cases of those wanted by police for their religious affiliation or beliefs, particularly after a series of bombings in Tashkent in February 1999.
As the testimony of Dmitri Chikunov, recounted above, indicates, in some cases these threats may have an even greater effect on detainees than physical or psychological methods directed solely against the detainee.
One woman told Human Rights Watch, "The wife of my relative, Ulugbek, was called in to meet with her husband. She showed up and her husband told her he would not confess. The police threatened to undress and rapeher, and as they moved toward her she lost consciousness. After that, Ulugbek confessed. Before that, they had beaten [him] and even knocked out all of his teeth, but he had never confessed, until they threatened to rape his wife."96
Maqsudjon Mehmonov, whose story of torture is related above, also said he was threatened with violence and told his family would suffer. Immediately after he came round from unconsciousness caused by the gas mask torture, the interrogation resumed.
They said, "Now you just have to confess. If you die we'll hang you and say you hanged yourself. You won't get out of here alive." [The police officer in charge of the interrogation] said "Don't you feel sorry for your children or parents? We'll arrest all of them. If you die, we`ll blame it all on you." After he said this I couldn't bear it any more, thinking about my [six] children and parents, and I confessed to crimes I hadn't committed.
Mehmonov was then taken to a basement cell where there was one other prisoner, who advised him to confess to any crime and retract it later in court. Mehmonov's confession resulted in the death sentence being passed on him.97
Threats against the life and liberty of family members convince detainees that they have no choice but to cooperate with investigators. Writer Mamadali Makhmudov was arrested in February 1999, shortly after five explosions in Tashkent unleashed a wave of indiscriminate arrests. He recounted at his trial that while in detention in the Ministry of Internal Affairs headquarters, investigators claimed to be holding his wife and two daughters in custody already, and threatened to have them raped before Makhmudov's eyes if he did not comply with their demands.98 Makhmudov, who said he was also beaten, suffocated with a plastic bag, suspended by his wrists cuffed behind his back, and burned on his legs and arms, subsequently agreed to give a videotaped "confession," which has been shown repeatedly on Uzbek television.
Tashkent police detained Shirin P., along with her sister in April 1999, hoping to coerce her fiancé, Farkhod A., to confess to membership in an illegal religious organization.99
First they left me in a room while they questioned my sister. Then they started to threaten Farkhod, "Now we'll rape your wife-to-be in front of your eyes and you'll confess to everything on your own."...Then they took Farkhod away, and brought my sister into that room, and started to threaten her... "If you don't confess, we'll send you down into the basement among the men, and you'll confess."100
Police do not make these threats in vain. They arrest, detain, and even torture the relatives of their primary suspects, sometimes in their very presence. They use the detainee's knowledge of the relative's torture to obtain the former's cooperation. The mother and father of Oibek and Uigun Ruzmetov, arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, were also arrested, humiliated, and tortured. Both men and their father, Sobir, were detained on January 1, 1999, by police in Urgench district. Darmon Sultonova, their mother, recounted:
It was January 5, during Ramadan. They lied to me, and said that they would give me a chance to give clothes and food to my husband...They held me for one night in a solitaryconfinement cell in the Urgench district MVD, and insulted me as if I were a dog. I was handcuffed naked and given no water. The deputy head of the MVD said "We will kill your whole family, even the new baby." When I was detained they showed me to Uigun. They detained me and stripped me naked, and three men walked by. Then they showed me to my son. Twice they walked him along me. He looked so bad, he had been completely beaten up. I could only cry, I could not talk to him. They told him, "Your parents and your wife are also in prison. Your children are in an orphanage. If you don't sign these documents, we'll do something very bad to your wife." My son at his trial said that he was told they would rape his wife before his eyes if he did not confess.101
Even when police already hold a suspect in custody, others may be detained and ill-treated in order to punish the family as a whole, as well as the primary suspect. After police arrested "Iusuf I." in April 1998, they continued to visit his family home. In mid-June, they ordered his father, "Tokhtaboi" to report for questioning, according to Tokhtaboi's wife, who recalled :
"If he doesn't come in on his own, we will come and take him there by force," they said. The next day, Tokhtaboi went to the local police precinct in the morning at 9:00 a.m. He returned home at 9:00 p.m. only half-alive. His whole body, except for his face, was covered in bruises, and four of his ribs were broken, and he had serious problems with his kidneys, which had been beaten for a long time. Then I asked why they did that. He said they didn't tell him.102
Police were seeking the two sons of "Olga Ivanova" (not her real name), aged sixty-seven, on suspicion of murder, when they detained her for five days in October 1999, without ever registering her detention as required by Uzbek criminal procedure. On the sixth day, her sons were arrested by police, who then released Ivanova. While in detention, she was beaten with rubber truncheons, had clumps of her hair torn out, and endured two broken ribs, but for fear of retribution against herself or her sons, has not attempted to file a complaint against the police.103
After the Tashkent bombings, Minister of Internal Affairs Zokirjon Almatov sent an ominous signal about the detaining of family members, announcing that fathers would pay for the alleged crimes of their sons. Unless parents instructed children suspected of involvement in anti-state activity to turn themselves in, the parents themselves would be held accountable, and even criminally liable for their children's activities. As a result, whole families have been targeted as politically suspect, placing all of their members at risk of torture.104
The case of the Hasanov family is tragically typical of this pattern. According to witnesses, police first arrested one of the four Hasanov brothers, Bahodir, in February 1999, reportedly planting bullets in his home and beating himin order to force him to confess that they belonged to him. "They pushed him to the ground, kicked him, and pulled his head up by the hair, yelling `Say it, mujahid, how many times were you in Chechnya?'" a witness who wished to remain anonymous recounted to Human Rights Watch.105 Bahodir Hasanov was released after four days of incommunicado detention, detained again in September, and held for seventeen days, during which he was beaten, kicked, and threatened with the arrest and rape of his wife. He was again released, but was re-arrested on July 17, 2000, and remains in custody as of this writing.
His younger brother, Ismail, twenty-seven, was arrested in May 1999. Accused of involvement in a banned Islamic group and of anti-state activity, he was convicted in August. But while in prison, authorities charged him with further anti-state crimes. In November 1999, police arrested the Hasanov brothers' father, Munnavar, who is seventy years old, on charges of possessing banned Islamic leaflets, which eyewitnesses say that police themselves planted. According to sources close to the family, during interrogation, the elder Hasanov, who was himself beaten, heard screams coming from the next room. Officers took Munnavar Hasanov to the room, where he reportedly saw his younger son, Ismail, strung up by the ankles, being dropped on his head and beaten by police. Police told the elderly man that they could do anything they wanted with his son, even kill him, and none would know. Munnavar Hasanov agreed to sign a confession to put an end to the torture of his son; he was sentenced in February 2000 to three years of imprisonment. Ismail, too, was told of his father's beatings, and forced to sign a confession to stop them.106 In May 2000, the Tashkent Provincial Court sentenced Ismail to a further twenty years of imprisonment on the basis of this confession.107
To coerce self-incriminating testimony, police authorities may mobilize suspects' entire communities in public gatherings, which suspects are physically forced to attend. Those subjected to these proceedings include detainees brought to them from detention centers and others who are effectively held in a form of detention on mahalla premises. Abuse and threats to those subjected to these sessions can constitute degrading treatment in the sense of the Convention against Torture.108
In Uzbekistan, most people in both urban and rural areas live in small communities known as mahalla; mahalla community bodies serve both administrative and social functions.109 The chairman of the mahalla, who is usually the community's elder, directs a small group of community activists.110 Increasingly, since the passage of the 1999 Law on the Mahalla, mahalla officials have been called on to carry out state security monitoring functions, drawing up lists of suspected religious and political dissidents. The high degree of mutual knowledge and interdependence among community members makes the mahalla a highly effective means of exercising pressure against suspects or their families. The mahalla can force a detainee, defendant, or convicted person or his or her family to submit to personal humiliation and at hate rallies promote their ostracism from the community.
Police officials have forced several human rights activists, both those who faced criminal charges and those who were not charged with any crime, to attend public rallies in their communities of residence.111 During these rallies,mahalla and other government officials, activists, and others excoriated the human rights defenders as criminals, accessories to acts of terrorism, and enemies of the state. The activists were forced to appear, either brought directly from detention, or summoned by local officials, and physically prevented from leaving the premises, sitting down, or even addressing members of the audience. In at least one case, the rally was videotaped, and portions were shown on television to further shame and intimidate the victim.
Testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch suggests that these rallies are routinely staged against members of a community whose relatives have been convicted of religious extremism.112 The prosecutor in the May trial of fourteen accused terrorists called on the judge to order each of the defendants' mahallas to hold rallies to condemn the defendants and their families.113 Beyond the victim's own community, they may be forced to appear and endure public shaming before a much larger audience. On April 5, 2000, the Namangan mayoralty held a showcase public meeting to excoriate five people accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Present were a deputy minister of internal affairs, B.P. Parpiev, the Namangan province governor, procurator, and head of the provincial department of internal affairs, as well as the chairmen of all the mahalla of the city Namangan. The five suspects were brought before the audience in leg irons: Omina Muidinova, her brother Ne'mat Nuriddinov, and her sons Odil, Orif, and Obid Muidinov, all accused of "attempted overthrow of the constitutional order," and at that time in pre-trial police custody.114 Omina was forced to confess to having urged unidentified others to travel to Tajikistan.115 At the meeting, she was accused by the assembled officials of supporting religious extremists. Members of the audience were given the opportunity to criticize the accused, while others shouted from the hall that they should be shot, and that their parents should also be punished.116
20 The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) is the body that monitors states parties adherence to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
21 Uzbek Committee against Torture Report, p. 11, paragraph 46.
22 Uzbek Committee against Torture Report, p. 12, paragraph 53.
23 Code of Criminal Procedure, article 345. According to this article, the preliminary investigation of crimes "against peace and security," which include crimes against the state such as terrorism, the incitement of ethnic or religious hatred, or attempted overthrow of the constitutional order, as well as violation of Customs regulations, illegal entry or exit across state borders and contraband (articles 150-163, 182, 223 and 246 of the Criminal Code) are to be investigated by the SNB. Violations of articles 167, 244(1) and 244(2) of the Criminal Code (assuming ownership of another's property, preparing or distributing material which constitute a threat to public order or security, respectively, the latter two of which are often used against accused members of illegal religious groups), may be investigated by the agency that initiated the case.
24 See Appendix 1.
25 See Appendix 4. Human Rights Watch press release, "Uzbek Rights Activist Disappears in Custody," July 11, 1999. Usmonov's death caused deep shock among members of the community, and Uzbek authorities tried to prevent people from attending his funeral. In a pattern that would be repeated after bodies of other victims of police abuse were returned to their families, police attempted to restrict access to the Usmonov family's neighborhood and to the funeral route, setting up roadblocks and posting plainclothes officers outside the family home after the return of the body. Dozens of mourners were arrested at the scene and sentenced to ten to thirty days in police custody.
26 This physical abuse of prison inmates falls within the definition of torture outlined by the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: "...severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as...punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason..." Convention against Torture, article 1.
27 According to Uzbekistan's Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), the Jaslyk camp is a general regime, as opposed to a strict regime or maximum security colony. Nevertheless, reports from families of inmates as well as domestic human rights monitors describe conditions there as the most brutal among all of Uzbekistan's places of detention.
28 Information provided by the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), 1999.
29 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 3, 2000. The HRSU has reported that thirty-eight prisoners died in the Jaslyk facility in 1999, but clear, detailed information on the causes of death is lacking.
30 Human Rights Watch press release, "Uzbek police `disappear' torture victim," July 20, 2000.
31 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, June 9, 2000.
32 Death certificate on file with Human Rights Watch.
33 Human Rights Watch interview, name and place withheld, May 9, 2000.
35 Human Rights Watch interview with human rights activist Rustam Iskhakov, Tashkent, April 11, 2000; Human Rights Watch interview with Sabine Freizer, Human Dimension Expert, Central Asia Liaison Office of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Tashkent, April 14, 2000.
36 Letter of Dmitri Chikunov to his mother, 1999. See Appendix 2 to this report. An operativnik is a police detective.
37 Human Rights Watch interview with Muidin Kurbanov, Jizzakh, June 12, 1999.
38 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 10, 2000.
39 Human Rights Watch interview with Hashimbek Irisbaev, human rights activist, May 24, 1999.
40 Testimony written and signed by the person referred to here as Rashid Karimov, February 1997. Rashid Karimov is a pseudonym, used to protect the man's identity.
41 Human Rights Watch Press Release, "Uzbekistan police savagely beat human rights activist," June 28, 1999.
42 Human Rights Watch interview with a witness who viewed the body of Saidaminov, name withheld, November 2000.
43 Written testimony signed by the three women, February 1997, provided to Human Rights Watch by lawyer/activist Polina Braunerg; names withheld.
44 Written testimony submitted to Human Rights Watch, February 1997, name withheld.
45 Written appeal to President Karimov from Maqsudjon Mehmonov, obtained through the courtesy of the HRSU.
46 Written testimony to the HRSU, on file with Human Rights Watch, August 2000.
48 Human Rights Watch interview with "Zinaida Fedorova," December 1996. Zinaida Federovna is a pseudonym, used to protect the woman's safety. Written testimony from her son, "Sergei."
49 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 13, 1999.
50 Human Rights Watch interview with Hashimbek Irisbaev, May 24, 1999. Irisbaev recounted the testimony of several of ten men sentenced to prison on May 14, 1999 by the Supreme Court for anti-state activity who were subjected to this treatment.
51 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, July 17, 2000. Ismail Hasanov was sentenced in May 2000 to twenty years in prison, which was added to an earlier sentence of five years, condemning him to twenty-five years in all.
52 Human Rights Watch interview, Asaka, Andijan, May 18, 2000.
53 Human Rights Watch interview with Svetlana Avakian, Tashkent, December 22, 1998.
55 Human Rights Watch interview, Tashkent, April 10, 2000.
56 Written testimony provided to HRSU, November 1999, on file with Human Rights Watch.
57 Human Rights Watch interview with Zinaida Orlova, Tashkent, May 2, 2000. GUVD is the Russian acronym for this agency, which is the city police department.
58 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Murodjon and Kamoliddin Sattarov, Andijan, May 17, 2000.
59 Testimony supplied to Human Rights Watch by Ivan Silaev, which is a pseudonym used to protect the man's safety.
60 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 14, 1999.
61 Human Rights Watch interview, May 2, 2000. Orlova was a suspect in a murder case. See above.
62 Letter of Dmitri Chikunov to his mother, 1999.
63 Saitniiazov was arrested in February 2000. Written testimony on file with Human Rights Watch, August 2000. The "Akmal Ikramov 15" including Dilshod Iskhakov were tried by the Tashkent Municipal Court, Judge Rakhmanov, in the building of the Akmal Ikramov District Court. They were sentenced on September 6, 2000, to terms ranging from twelve to sixteen years for their membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
64 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, May 11, 2000. A Human Rights Watch researcher attended the trial at the Tashkent Province Court.
65 Open letter of Mamura Khojimukhamedova, May 18, 2000.
66 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer C, name withheld, May 10, 2000.
67 Human Rights Watch interview with "Kadir D.," May 17, 1999.
68 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, May 30, 1999. Khajimukhamedov was sentenced to death by the Tashkent Provincial Court in August 1999, and was executed in December 1999.
69 Human Rights Watch interview with Saidjahon Zainabutddinov, Tashkent, May 9, 2000.
70 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Pahlavanov, April 1997. Mahmud Pahlavanov is a pseudonym, used to protect the man's safety. For the same reason, Human Rights Watch is not disclosing the place where the interview took place.
71 Human Rights Watch interview with activist Vaslia Inoiatova, June 10, 2000.
72 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, August 2, 1999, and November 30, 1999.
73 Human Rights Watch unofficial court transcript, May 1999.
74 Written testimony on file with Human Rights Watch, August 2000.
75 Unofficial court transcript, August 2, 2000, provided by human rights activist Vasila Inoyatova, who monitored this Tashkent Municipal Court trial, held in the courtroom of the Akmal Ikramov District Court, Tashkent.
76 Human Rights Watch interview with Saidjahon Zainabutddinov, Tashkent, May 9, 2000.
77 Human Rights Watch interview with Ruslan Mamin, Tashkent, April 26, 2000.
78 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 14, 1999.
79 Written testimony on file with Human Rights Watch, August 2000.
80 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 14, 1999.
81 Written testimony of Abror Iadgorov submitted to Human Rights Watch, July 2000.
82 Human Rights Watch interview, May 29, 1999.
83 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, May 17, 1999. This former prisoner related that this method had been used against his cellmate in Tashkent's administrative detention center. This torture was alleged to have taken place in the basement of the city's police headquarters, the GUVD.
84 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, August 1995.
85 After an international outcry, in early October 1995, both women were released pending trial. See Human Rights Watch, World Report 1996 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), p.249.
86 Convention against Torture, article 1, defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession...or intimidating or coercing him or a third person..." Emphasis added.
87 Human Rights Watch interview with the person referred to here as Mahmud Pahlavanov, April 1997.
88 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
89 Human Rights Watch interview, May 22, 1999.
90 Testimony written and signed by the person referred to with the pseudonym Ziyoda Ravshanova, December 1996.
91 Human Rights Watch interview with Mamura Khajimukhamedova, May 12, 1999. Khajimukhamedova recounted this episode from a letter her husband wrote her while in prison.
92 Unofficial court transcript, April, 2000, provided by activist Vasila Inoiatova. The case was heard in the Tashkent Province Court.
93 Imam Kobil Murodov, who died in custody in October, 1999, was said to have sustained head trauma though a fall from a prison bunk. Human Rights Watch interview, Mikhail Ardzinov, chair, Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (IHROU), December 14, 1999; Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, June 4 1999.
94 Letter of Dmitri Chikunov to his mother, 1999.
96 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 26, 2000.
97 Written testimony in the form of an appeal to President Karimov from Maqsudjon Mehmonov and obtained by Human Rights Watch in April 1997.
98 Makhmudov was sentenced to twelve years of imprisonment in August 1999 together with several activists of the Erk (Freedom) political party, and relatives of the party's leader, Muhammad Solikh, who is now in exile. The six men were convicted of various offenses, included the attempted overthrow of the constitutional order, participation in "forbidden organizations," and distributing written materials of such forbidden organizations. The trial was closed to international observers and has been severely criticized by international organizations. Verdict of the Tashkent Province Court, August 18, 1999, and letter of Mamadali Makhmudov, August 10, 1999, on file with Human Rights Watch.
99 "Shirin" is a pseudonym for a woman who spoke to Human Rights Watch on the condition that she remain anonymous.
100 Human Rights Watch interview with Shirin P. (not her real name), May 30, 1999.
101 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, June 9, 2000. Uigun signed a confession after his mother's detention. The Tashkent Provincial Court sentenced both Oibek and Uigun Ruzmetov to death on July 29, 1999; they may have been executed, probably in December 1999, though their family has not received notification of this. Their father, Sobir Ruzmetov, sixty-five, was sentenced in May 1999 to five years imprisonment on drugs and weapons charges, on the basis of evidence which eyewitnesses maintain was planted by the police. Sobir should have been released in an amnesty in April 2000, but prison officials maintain that infractions of prison rules render him ineligible.
102 Human Rights Watch interview, real name, date and place withheld.
103 Human Rights Watch interview with Vasila Inoiatova, human rights activist, June 9, 2000; information also supplied by Polina Braunerg, human rights activist.
104 In a television interview broadcast on the first Uzbek TV channel on April 4, Minister of Internal Affairs Zokirjon Almatov stated that "very severe punishment will be meted out against those who continue following this path and who are involved in hatching some kind of plots. Their fathers will suffer punishment too." Then-Prosecutor General Usmon Khudoiqulov added in the same interview that "we have a list of those who have gone astray under the influence of various sects and we know who they are...we will find them without fail and make them answer before their fathers [meaning of sentence ambiguous; it could possibly mean "answer along with their fathers."] Their fathers, too, will account for bringing up their child in this way." BBC Worldwide Monitoring, April 5, 1999.
105 Human Rights Watch press release, "Uzbek police `disappear' torture victim," July 20, 2000. "Mujahid" refers to an armed Islamic militant. Uzbek authorities have repeatedly alleged that those involved in terrorist acts in Uzbekistan have links to armed groups in Chechnya.
106 Human Rights Watch interview with family member, name withheld, August 2000.
107 Human Rights Watch trial monitor, unofficial court transcript, May 15, 2000.
108 Convention against Torture, articles 1 and 16.1.
109 Law on the Mahalla, 1998. The mahalla is an administrative unit consisting of at least 500 households, which can be a city neighborhood, a collective farm, a village, or a number of small villages. The mahalla membership as a whole takes part in important celebrations (births, circumcisions, weddings, funerals), while the men and women activists may be engaged to counsel problematic individual members or mediate in family disputes.
110 The Law on the Mahalla mandates that chairmen (rarely women) be elected by their communities, although in practice these persons are often chosen (or at least confirmed) by the local executive authority. The chairmen are often, but not always, the same person as the mahalla elder, or aksakal.
111 See Human Rights Watch, "Leaving No Witnesses: Uzbekistan's Campaign Against Rights Defenders," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12 no. 4, March 2000.
112 Human Rights Watch interview with a family member of a convicted prisoner who was subjected to such a rally; name and place withheld, June 10, 2000.
113 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, May 11, 2000.
114 Article 159 of the Uzbek criminal code is the basis of one of the most commonly lodged charges in cases of a political or religious nature. The accused are relatives of Juma Namangani, a leader of the religious movement "Adolat," which is held responsible for disturbances in Namangan in 1991-2, and the man whom the Uzbek government claims has mounted an armed rebel movement from outside the country.
115 An armed group known as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which staged incursions into Uzbek territory during the summers of 1999 and 2000, is alleged to be based in Tajik territory. The Uzbek government has attempted to implement strict control over the border since the first incursions; any person attempting to cross the border evading these controls may be accused of complicity with or of participation in these groups.
116 Written testimony of the HRSU, Namangan chapter, May 2000.