—Female relative of a religious prisoner.954
Regardless of the reason for their incarceration, all inmates in Uzbekistan suffer from harsh, overcrowded, and unhygienic conditions in the Uzbek prison system.955 Prison authorities commonly beat inmates and fail to address their basic medical and nutritional needs through corruption or neglect. Diseases, particularly tuberculosis, are rampant and often go untreated. These conditions jeopardize prisoners’ health and life.956
Independent Muslims suffer acutely from these abuses. They are also singled out for special punishment, including physical and psychological mistreatment, by prison authorities.957 This section documents human rights violations against these prisoners. Some of the violations are common to the general prison population—the authorities’ failure to inform families of their relatives’ whereabouts in custody, the theft of food and medicine packages. Other violations, physical abuse in particular, are common but perpetrated against Muslim prisoners in retribution for their religious status, religious expression, adherence to religious practices, or their refusal to disavow their alleged “extremist” affiliations. In nine cases that Human Rights Watch documented, the torture of independent Muslim prisoners resulted in their deaths.958 The following section of this chapter also focuses attention on the atrocious conditions in Jaslyk prison, which is believed to have been constructed in 1998 with the specific purpose of holding prisoners convicted on religion-related charges.
Uzbekistan’s prison system is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and is administered by the ministry’s Main Administration for the Execution of Punishments. According to the ministry, there are thirty-five facilities in the country, including five general-regime facilities, ten strict-regime, and another facility designated as a “special” regime prison.959 The ministry runs a separate facility for female inmates, as well as separate prisons for minors and persons diagnosed with tuberculosis.960
Despite the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ assertions to the contrary, the country’s prisons are reportedly grossly overcrowded, exacerbating the already abysmal conditions.961 Human Rights Watch has consistently received reports throughout the past four years that prisoners were forced to sleep “in turns” due to a lack of beds and that some men were forced to sleep on the floor when prison officials filled cells beyond capacity.962 One prisoner held in Kiziltepa told Human Rights Watch that he had to sleep on the floor along with many others during his incarceration there in 2000.963 Another prisoner, held in the Zangiota facility, reported that he was held in a separate wing of the prison, along with more than one hundred other religious prisoners. He said that he regularly had to sleep on the floor because of overcrowding. He reported, however, that prison guards kept fewer men to a cell during the winter, because the floor was so cold.964 The problems associated with overcrowding were widely believed to be the primary motivation for semi-regular presidential amnesty decrees providing for the release of certain categories of prisoners.965
The combination of unhygienic conditions, malnutrition, and lack of medicine and medical attention, has led to serious problems of disease and illness in Uzbekistan’s prisons, sometimes resulting in death. According to one U.S. State Department report on Uzbekistan, “Tuberculosis and hepatitis are epidemic in the prisons, making even short periods of incarceration potentially deadly.”968 The absence of official government statistics on the subject makes it difficult to determine how many deaths of prisoners each year are due to tuberculosis; however, from scattered reports it appeared a common cause of death.
Prison officials frequently beat prisoners and subject them to ill-treatment by such actions as stealing food and medicine hand-delivered by prisoners’ relatives,969 and placing them in cells with freezing temperatures without adequate clothing. Such treatment weakens prisoners’ health and can lead to or compound illness, which sometimes ends with the prisoner’s death. In such a case, the official cause of death is routinely given as “tuberculosis,” “sclerosis of the liver,” or “septic endocarditis.”970 Authorities, however, ignored aggravating factors of ill-treatment when determining the cause of death. Human Rights Watch documented thirteen cases involving the deaths of independent Muslims that occurred between November 2001 and March 2003, in which the ill prisoner’s death was preceded by physical mistreatment, denial of medical treatment, and withholding of food parcels.971
Prisoners are often deprived regular contact with the outside world.972 Sanctioned visits by relatives are generally rare—sometimes limited to one visit every six months or every three months, depending on the severity of the crime of which the person was convicted. Communications to the outside world, including letters from prisoners to their families, is highly restricted. The relative of one religious prisoner, for example, learned during a visit with her son at Zangiota prison that none of the letters she had sent had reached him and that he too had sent her letters that were never delivered.973
Many religious prisoners were deprived contact with family for months at a time because their relatives did not know where they were incarcerated. Ministry of Internal Affairs officials responsible for tracking prisoners frequently withheld this information for two to three months or longer. Shukhrat Parpiev, for example, was missing in custody for seven months and Abdurashid Isakhojaev’s whereabouts were unknown for five months.974 The denial of information on prisoner whereabouts hindered family efforts to provide food, medicine, and other assistance to prisoners. It also increased the prisoners’ psychological isolation and made prisoners more vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment.
All prisoners in Uzbekistan are vulnerable to physical abuse by guards, but religious prisoners face the risk of harsher treatment and additional beatings to “break” them during the intake process and to ensure they will comply with prison rules, including prohibitions on religious practice.980 Beatings and ill-treatment continue throughout incarceration, as targeted punishment for violating prohibitions on prayer or other religious observance, for failing to sing the national anthem when asked to,981 or as a means to force independent Muslim prisoners to disavow their beliefs.982
According to Memorial, which has undertaken a systematic study of the Uzbek prison system, prison administrations have a special regime of control over political and religious prisoners involving both the prison officials and a network of informants chosen among inmates.983 Religious and political prisoners are more likely than others to receive demerits for violation of prison rules.984 Demerits lead to confinement in a punishment cell and undermine the prisoner’s chances for release under amnesty.985
Prison administrations require religious and political prisoners to wear special markings indicating their criminal status. Ismail Adylov, a human rights defender convicted in 1999 under article 159 and amnestied in 2001, served in a number of facilities, and told Human Rights Watch that prisoners convicted for religious or political reasons were given badges to wear that had a red line going through their name, to indicate their status as having been convicted under article 159.986
An inmate convicted on religion-related charges and held at Zangiota prison told a relative that when he was transferred to the facility with 130 other comparable prisoners on December 19, 1999, guards took them from the transport vehicle, formed a circle around them, and beat them with truncheons.987
Memorial reported that another independent Muslim prisoner from Zangiota said of arrival at the prison, "The following command is given: ‘Wahhabis and hizbuchiki—three steps forward!’” The Muslim prisoners are then sent through a "corridor" lined with officers who kick them and beat them with truncheons and wooden sticks. 988
One man sentenced in April 2000 to six years in prison for membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir and subsequently released under a presidential amnesty decree told Human Rights Watch that when he arrived at Novoi prison number 64/29, authorities there took him and seven other observant Muslim prisoners to a separate area of the prison and beat them.989
Punishment for Religious Observance
Guards have punished and beaten independent Muslim prisoners for religious observance in custody, in violation of domestic law, the ICCPR, and international standards for the treatment of prisoners.990
Prison officials forbid observance of Muslim rites and rituals. One member of Hizb ut-Tahrir told Human Rights Watch, “The prison ‘rules’ prohibit ablution, prayer, fasting, calling (da’wa) to Islam, reciting Quran and require singing the [national] anthem, [seeking] forgiveness of and glorifying the president, Karimov.”991 Prison officials, the author claimed, punish prisoners who fail to comply with the rules by beating them with truncheons and stripping them and putting them in cells with “homosexuals”—the intent of the officers was apparently to frighten the prisoners that they would be raped.992 The rights group Memorial noted that prison restrictions on religious observance have tightened during the course of the government’s campaign against independent Islam. Prior to 1999 some prison colonies maintained mosques, chapels, or areas where inmates could gather for group prayer. Prison administrations closed these in 1999, and subsequently strictly enforced a ban on group or individual prayer.993
The majority of cases Human Rights Watch documented regarding punishment of religious observance related to prayer:
Prisoners in the Kashkadaria facility (prison number 64/51), Nasriddin Shamsiddinov, Ikrom Usvaliev, and Baktior Orzikulov, were also confined in punishment cells, reportedly for raising their hands by their heads while performing daily prayers.998 Prayer was also forbidden at Zangiota prison and punished with beatings.999 Similar reports came out of Karshi prison, where guards allegedly beat inmates with truncheons as punishment for breaking the prohibition against prayer.1000
Prison authorities have banned such basic religious literature as copies of the Koran:
Authorities also punish prisoners for proselytizing. On August 26, 1999, three days after Tavakkaljon Akhmedov’s conviction for Hizb ut-Tahrir membership, his wife went to Andijan prison to meet with him. At the prison, however, authorities told her he would not be brought out to see her that day, as he was in a punishment cell in the prison basement for having violated prison rules—proselytizing, they said.1004 He was kept in the punishment cell for ten days. In December Akhmedov was sent to Tashkent prison, then transferred to Kashkadaria prison number 64/51 in southern Uzbekistan on January 11, 2000. A female relative who visited him told Human Rights Watch:
Prison officials reacted swiftly and severely when independent Muslims refused to sign statements of repentance. For instance, according to one authoritative report, Dshamurad Makhmudov, imprisoned on charges of possession of Hizb ut-Tahrir literature, was threatened and physically abused for his refusal to repent. Makhmudov was imprisoned in Zangiota when authorities threatened to send him to Jaslyk, a harsher facility, unless he asked for forgiveness. They allowed a visit from his relatives and then threatened he would never see them again unless he signed. According to the report, “When refusing to negate his beliefs, Dshamurad Makhmudov was reportedly taken to the medical unit early August 2002, as if to examine him, and was reportedly beaten there with bats. Four of his teeth were pulled out, and it is reported that he is bearing scars on the left side of his mouth.”1006
The Uzbek rights group Ezgulik (Good Deed) reported another case involving a convicted Hizb ut-Tahir member serving his sentence in Zarafshan prison. Prison officials beat Mashrab Mirzakhmedov with truncheons and put him in a punishment cell when he refused to write a statement asking for President Karimov’s pardon and recanting his beliefs.1013
As noted above, observing such Muslim rituals as prayer and fasting is regarded as violation of the internal prison rules punishable by terms in punishment cells and a demerit on the inmate’s prison record. Three demerits make a prisoner automatically ineligible for release under any amnesty passed during that period.
Prison authorities have accused religious prisoners, in particular, of violating prison rules, in order to make them ineligible for future amnesty provisions. They also fabricate other violations, such as drug possession or possession of money, or beat religious prisoners in order to force them to admit to false accusations of breaking prison rules.
At minimum, hundreds of religious prisoners have been sent to Jaslyk prison.1019 Local rights groups contend that the government has designated Jaslyk for religious and political prisoners.1020 The majority of its inmates are reportedly independent Muslims; other inmates include persons convicted of terrorism or other violent crimes who had no connection to religious or political dissident groups.1021
Located in the desert of Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic in the far northeast of the country, this prison is known for particularly high rates of torture and other mistreatment by guards and for inmate deaths from torture and disease. As noted elsewhere, Jaslyk is officially designated a general-regime prison.1022 However, it is known for having the harshest penal conditions in the nation.
The isolation of the setting has been reinforced by authorities’ policies on visitation. As of this writing, not a single attorney had been allowed to visit a client in Jaslyk. Family visits were not permitted until December 1999. Persons arriving by train (there is no paved road to the desert town of Jaslyk) were compelled by police to show a telegram proving that the prison had issued them an invitation before police guarding the train station would allow them to disembark at Jaslyk.1023 When a Human Rights Watch representative visited the town of Jaslyk, close to the prison, in July 1999, the local police chief told her that entry to the area was prohibited and visitors must have the special permission of President Karimov even to enter the town.1024 Even when families are permitted to visit, the cost of travel from virtually anywhere in Uzbekistan is prohibitive. Uzbek authorities allowed the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Jaslyk in December 2002, but the two hours allotted was insufficient for a meaningful visit.1025
At least during the early operation of the facility in 1999, authorities routinely failed to notify relatives that their imprisoned family members had been transferred from other prisons to Jaslyk. The prisoners were then, effectively, missing in custody for months and cut off from even infrequent visits and transfer of food, clothing, and medicine from relatives.1026
Several people have described the general conditions in Jaslyk that violate international standards for the treatment of prisoners. Regarding religious prisoners, Irina Mikulina, attorney for one inmate, said prisoners were kept in their cells for as long as six months without being let outside for fresh air or exercise.1027 Echoing accounts from others, Mikulina said that prisoners were kept in cells with up to sixteen other inmates and were forced to crouch on their heels with their hands behind their necks all day long.1028 If a prisoner so much as stretches his leg, she said, he has to say, “Thank you President Karimov.”1029 Prisoners are not allowed to speak to one another.1030
Those who have visited their relatives in Jaslyk noted the severely weakened state of their family members, indicating the extremely poor conditions in the facility. The mother of an inmate at Jaslyk sentenced to fifteen years for “Wahhabism” managed to visit her son in December 1999—she was among the first relatives of Jaslyk inmates to obtain such permission. He was obviously weak from malnutrition. She said the prisoners ate barley once a day and were given one loaf of bread a day to be shared by three men.1031 Another visitor at the prison told her that the inmates were not allowed any fresh air and that guards forced them to crouch in their cells with their hands on their bowed heads, singing the national hymn, while guards beat each prisoner on the back.1032
As reported by inmates in other prisons, persons incarcerated at Jaslyk were allegedly beaten, threatened with sexual violence, and placed in solitary confinement for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs.1033
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, reported on his conversation with the director, or warden, of Jaslyk prison: “The director stressed that muftis come to teach to prisoners ‘real’ Islam, because of the proselytism by religious terrorists detained in Jaslyk colony. The director proudly mentioned that 70-80 per cent of the detainees write letters of repentance, and that he personally exhorts them to do so.”1036
Guards at Jaslyk beat prisoners to “break” them during the intake process, to punish them for religious observance, and to compel them to disavow their religious affiliations and faith.
The attorney for one Jaslyk prisoner, Abdumalik Nazarov, described, in detail, beatings during the intake process. The lawyer, Irina Mikulina, told Human Rights Watch that Nazarov arrived at Jaslyk prison by airplane along with 250 other prisoners—their hands and feet bound—on May 29, 1999. 1037 Upon arrival they were shoved to the ground “like sacks” and then forced to run a “living corridor” or gauntlet of prison guards approximately one hundred meters long (about one hundred yards) up to the prison entrance, while the officers beat them with metal rods and kicked them, causing some to fall.1038
Rights defender Vasila Inoiatova reported that beatings by a gauntlet of officers were in fact a regular occurrence at Jaslyk, not only upon arrival, but also as part of the daily routine.1039 A Khorezm woman, whose son and husband were both imprisoned in Jaslyk, told Inoiatova that her husband was suffering from medical problems, including blood in his urine, as a result of a practice by guards that involved lining prisoners up in a row, tying their hands and feet together, and then kicking them repeatedly in the groin.1040
The mother of the young man serving a fifteen-year sentence for “Wahhabism” told Human Rights Watch, “They’d beaten him so badly that he couldn’t even lift up a teapot. He had bruises all over him. We told him to take off his clothes, and we saw that he had bruises all over... ‘We are so tired,’ he said, ‘they torture us.’1041 The woman noted how fearful he was. Guards interrupted the visit every ten minutes, she said, and each time an officer entered the room, her son would jump from his seat and rush over to greet the guard. Following the family visit, guards at Jaslyk beat the young man again, so badly that he was committed to the prison hospital in Tashkent. There, officials refused to allow any family visits or deliveries of food.1042
During the first months of Abdurashid Isakhojaev’s incarceration, prison authorities refused to disclose his whereabouts to his parents, but on December 25, 1999, prison officials finally allowed relatives to meet with him in Jaslyk prison. The following is his mother’s account of the visit:
When relatives saw Isakhojaev again on April 14, 2000, he was in dire physical condition.1044 Afterward, his parents were called into Warden Ozod Bobojonov’s office, where he questioned them about letters they had written to government authorities complaining about Abdurashid’s health and conditions in prison. The elderly parents were told to write a letter of thanks to the prison warden. According to the prisoner’s mother, Sharifa Isakhojaeva, “We thought about our son in the next room, in their hands, and we wrote the letter.”1045
Human Rights Watch documented six deaths of independent Muslims in Jaslyk prison, from torture, between May 1998 and September 2003.1046 One additional prisoner was tortured in Jaslyk and then died at home two days after his release.1047 Below are several examples of deaths from torture in Jaslyk.
On August 8, 2002, the bodies of two independent Muslims, Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov, were returned to their families. Individuals who viewed Avazov’s body told Human Rights Watch that it showed signs of torture, including burns on the legs, buttocks, and lower back.1048 Doctors who saw the body reported that such burns could only have been caused by immersing Avazov in boiling water.1049 Those who saw Avazov’s body also reported that there was a large, bloody wound on the back of his head, heavy bruising on his forehead and the side of his neck, and that his hands had no fingernails.1050 The authorities restricted viewing of Alimov’s corpse.
In May 2002 Human Rights Watch received reports that prison authorities had beaten Muzafar Avazov and put him in a punishment cell for stating that nothing could stop him from performing his prayers.
Prior to Alimov’s death, relatives of people imprisoned in Jaslyk told Human Rights Watch that prison officials had also confined Alimov in a punishment cell. He was reportedly placed there before the end of June and spent many weeks there before his death.1051
In a May 2002 letter detailing mistreatment of prisoners in Jaslyk, Alimov was reported as being one of four men who were tortured—they were tied up with rope and raped with truncheons—at the prison from May 14 to May 15 for refusing to ask the government’s pardon for their supposed crimes and for failure to sing the national anthem.1052
On May 26, 2002, Khusniddin Khikmatov died at home, after being released, critically ill, from Jaslyk prison.1053 He had been serving a seventeen-year prison term on charges deriving from his membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir and possession of a book on Islam that the authorities deemed “extremist.”1054 His death certificate stated that he had died from a “severe intestinal illness.”1055 Days before his death, however, Khikmatov recounted to people close to him the punishment meted out to him in prison for praying and refusing to ask for forgiveness from President Karimov.1056
Khikmatov had said that beatings in Jaslyk prison began the day he arrived. When relatives visited him in February 2002, they witnessed bruising on his back and arms. He told them that prison guards beat him, including on the soles of his feet, for refusing to ask for forgiveness from President Karimov and refusing to sing the national anthem.1057
In April he began to pray openly, having previously only prayed in secret. For this he was placed in a punishment cell and two prison officers brutally beat him with batons for four days. By the fourth day he became ill with a high temperature and diarrhea. He was taken to the medical ward in Jaslyk prison. When his condition failed to improve, the authorities told him that he would be transferred to the prison hospital in Tashkent. First, however, they took him to Nukus, a town several hours from Jaslyk, and held him in custody for two weeks without medical treatment, he believed in order for his bruises to fade. At this stage he was unable to walk or eat—the authorities fed him via an intravenous drip. The authorities then transported him approximately 1,200 kilometers to Tashkent, twenty-six hours by train, declining the option of sending him on an available flight.1058
Khikmatov arrived in Tashkent on May 16, 2002. On May 24 he was released from prison custody and taken to Infectious Diseases Hospital Number 5 in Tashkent, where police continued to monitor him and his visitors. Khikmatov lost consciousness early on May 26; that day the family took him home without the permission of hospital staff. He died in the early afternoon.1059
Police questioned visitors to the family home during the ceremony preceding the burial, refusing entry to some. There was a large police presence during the funeral.1060 The family told Human Rights Watch there had been no discussion with the authorities about an investigation, and made clear that they felt too intimidated to press the issue.1061 No known investigation into Khikmatov’s death has been initiated.
Shukhrat Parpiev, sentenced to five years in prison for concealing the alleged crimes of his boss, died in Jaslyk in May 2000, apparently from torture.1062 The condition of his body when it was returned, in bloody sheets, indicated torture: part of his head was smashed, his collarbone was broken, he had broken ribs, and his body was covered with what appeared to be scratches and bruises.1063
Illness-related Deaths Compounded by Torture or Ill-treatment
In February 2002 Mirkamol Solikhojaev died at age thirty-seven in Jaslyk prison. The official cause of death was tuberculosis, but Human Rights Watch received reports from persons close to Solikhojaev that he had been systematically beaten by guards with truncheons and barbed wire, leaving puncture wounds, during his incarceration. Because the authorities did not investigate the abuse, the degree to which it contributed to Solikhojaev’s death could not be determined.1064
Twenty-five-year-old Dilmurod Umarov, incarcerated in Jaslyk prison after a conviction on charges of religious infraction and anti-state activity, died there in July 2000. When his mother arrived on July 6 for what she was expecting to be a twenty-four hour visit, prison staff told her she would have only two hours. She reportedly overheard guards discussing her son: one said that Umarov was dying, and another reportedly ordered, “Then bring out a body, at least.”1065 Another prisoner’s father, at the prison visiting his son, was with Umarov’s mother when guards carried him out.1066 According to him and another witness, Umarov could not stand on his own; his eyes were “strange” as if he were on strong medication; and he could not open his mouth to speak, he was so weak and incapacitated.1067 When Umarov’s mother expressed concern about her son, Warden Ozod Bobojonov reportedly told her all was in order.1068 On July 19, less than two weeks later, Enakhon Umarova received a telegram saying her son had died from an illness and that she and her husband could travel to pick up his body. The official cause of death was reportedly given as tuberculosis, but sources who saw his body at the time of burial said he was covered with bruises.1069
Abdujalil Gafurov, whom police arrested out of the bazaar where he worked in 1999 on charges of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, was sent to Jaslyk.1070 He was reportedly placed in an isolation cell where he was forced to stand in cold water. Gafurov contracted tuberculosis and died at age thirty on February 21, 2001.1071
954 Human Rights Watch interview with female relative of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, name withheld, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
955 See U.S. Department of State, 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, March 31, 2003.
956 Several international treaties to which Uzbekistan is a state party recognize basic rights of prisoners. Article 10 of the ICCPR, for example, states: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” Several additional international documents enumerate the human rights of persons deprived of liberty, give guidance as to how governments may comply with their obligations under international law, and provide authoritative interpretations of the norms binding on governments. The most comprehensive such guidelines are the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners [hereinafter, Standard Minimum Rules], approved by the Economic and Social Council in 1957.
957Human Rights Watch interview with Nikolai Mitrokhin, Central Asia researcher for the Memorial Human Rights Center, New York, March 27, 2003. Memorial has undertaken a systematic study of prison conditions in Uzbekistan and found that independent Muslim prisoners are treated more harshly than average prisoners.
958 Seven of the men died while still incarcerated. Six of these were prisoners at Jaslyk prison. Two additional prisoners died at home within days of their release from custody. One of these prisoners had been incarcerated at Jaslyk. Human Rights Watch received reports about another six suspicious deaths of independent Muslim prisoners. Four additional men died in prison from illness compounded by torture. See, Human Rights Watch, “Deaths in Custody in Uzbekistan,” Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, April 4, 2003.
959 “On the Basis of Humanism: The Activities of the Penal System of the Republic of Uzbekistan,” Narodnoe Slovo, September 2000. “General-regime” corresponds roughly to minimum security, “strict-regime,” to medium security, and “special-regime,” to maximum security. The type of regime to which one is sentenced depends on the convict’s criminal record and the type of crime committed, and also determines the level of prisoner privileges.
961 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Tolib Iakubov, Tashkent, May 1, 2000; and U.S. Department of State, 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 31, 2003, which stated, “Prison overcrowding was a problem, with some facilities holding 10 to 15 persons in cells designed for 4.”
962 Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU) Information Bulletin number 2, September 12, 1999; and “Voices from the Detention Places,” Information Bulletin on Human Rights Violations in Uzbekistan (during the period 2002-2003), Ezgulik [online], http://www.ezgulik.org/sboreng5/sboen5-1.html (retrieved February 24, 2004).
963 Human Rights Watch interview with former inmate, name withheld, location withheld, November 6, 2001.
964 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of a prisoner in Zangiota, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, February 14, 2000.
965 Amnesties generally do not lead to a sustained decrease in the total prison population. For more information on amnesties, see below, Chapter V, and “Religious Persecution of Independent Muslims in Uzbekistan From September 2001 to July 2002,” Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, August 21, 2002 [online], http://hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/uzbek-aug/uzbek-brief0820.pdf (retrieved February 24, 2004).
966 Anonymous letter regarding prison conditions based on information received from prisoners, delivered to Human Rights Watch June 2002, on file with Human Rights Watch.
968 Lack of medicine and supplies along with the apparent indifference of prison personnel has meant that most inmates’ medical ailments go untreated. Tuberculosis among the prison population poses a serious health risk and disease rates are rising. U.S. Department of State, 2001Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 4, 2002 [online], http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/ (retrieved January 6, 2004). The same was reported by the U.S. Department of State, 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 31, 2003.
969 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of “B.B.,” Margilan, March 5, 2003.
970 Endocarditis is an infection of the heart valve. Death certificates on file with Human Rights Watch.
971 Human Rights Watch, “Deaths in Custody in Uzbekistan,” Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, April 4, 2003
972 Rule 37 of the Standard Minimum Rules states: “Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.”
973 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of an independent Muslim prisoner, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, February 14, 2000.
974 Human Rights Watch interview with people close to Shukhrat Parpiev, names withheld, Andijan, May 18, 2000; and Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000. Both men were subsequently revealed to be in Jaslyk prison.
975 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.
976 Human Rights Watch interview, withthe mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, November 1999.
977 Human Rights Watch interview withthe mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, name withheld at her request, April 5, 2000. For a description of the office of the Ombudsperson, see Chapter V.
978 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Andijan, May 19, 2000.
979 Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven.
980 While numerous sources have described the “breaking” of religious convicts, a source from Hizb ut-Tahrir told Human Rights Watch that one of the principal aims of this process is to ensure the observance of prohibitions regarding religious practice. Electronic communication to Human Rights Watch from a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, name withheld, September 3, 2000.
981 Several sources separately described this practice. After his release from Kiziltepa prison in the Bukhara province, Ismail Adylov told Human Rights Watch that prisoners were regularly beaten in that facility for failing to sing the national anthem “loud enough.” Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender and former political prisoner Ismail Adylov, New York, November 2001. Prisoners in Jaslyk were also reportedly beaten for not singing the national anthem. “A Letter from Jaslyk Prison,” author is anonymous, provided to Human Rights Watch May 31, 2002, on file with Human Rights Watch; and Human Rights Watch interview with Abdumalik Nazarov’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999. Similar accounts have been received from other prisons.
982 The U.S. Department of State acknowledged in its 2003 country report the particularly harsh treatment these inmates face in Uzbekistan’s prisons, including as apparent summary punishment: “Prisoners suspected of extremist [sic] Islamic political sympathies reportedly were routinely beaten and treated more harshly than criminals, regardless of whether investigators were seeking a confession.” U.S. Department of State, 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 31, 2003.
983 Human Rights Watch interview with Nikolai Mitrokhin, Central Asia researcher for the Memorial Human Rights Center, New York, March 27, 2003.
985 Ibid. Conditions in punishment cells are notoriously poor, and guards often abuse inmates serving in them. For example, the female relative of one Hizb ut-Tahrir prisoner told Human Rights Watch, “When he was in Karshi, they put them [the prisoners] in a punishment cell and poured cold water on the floor and they were naked. I went to Karshi for a visit and he told me that.” Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, March 1, 2000.
986 Human Rights Watch interview with Ismail Adylov, New York, November 2001. He also showed Human Rights Watch representatives a plaque (his own) as an example of the kind that he said was posted near the bed of each political or religious prisoner, also with a red line going through the person’s name. In another example, in November 1999, when relatives visited convicted Hizb ut-Tahrir member Murodjon Sattarov at Karshi prison, he showed them his shirt, which bore a red mark that he said signified in the prison that he was a “bloodsucker,” a Hizb ut-Tahrir prisoner. Human Rights Watch interview with the father, mother and sister of Murodjon Sattarov, names withheld, Andijan, May 17, 2000. The Uzbek human rights group Mazlum (The Oppressed) has also reported that religious prisoners are addressed with certain curses and referred to as “traitor” or “enemy of the people.” “Islam Karimov: ‘7-8 people are not wanted in the republic,’” [online] http://mazlum.ferghana.ru/index.htm (retrieved February 24, 2004).
987 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of a prisoner in Zangiota, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, February 14, 2000.
988 Information Center for Human Rights in Central Asia and Memorial Human Rights Center, “Uzbekistan: treatment of political convicts in the strict order prison located near Tashkent,” Moscow, March 2001. Hizbuchik is a slang expression for someone affiliated with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
989 Human Rights Watch interview with a released prisoner, name withheld, Margilan, July 12, 2002.
990 Uzbekistan’s 1998 religion law, while placing limitations on most religious expression, explicitly provided for freedom of worship for prisoners and detainees. Article 14 states, “Worship and religious rites can be exercised in hospitals, nursing homes, detention centers, prisons and labor camps at the request of the people staying there.” Article 14, Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, May 1, 1998. It remained unclear whether prison administrators were ignorant of the law, chose to violate this provision, or were ordered to do so by their superiors. As noted in the report on Uzbekistan issued by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2003, the internal rules of Uzbekistan’s prisons are not available to the public. Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven. Regarding international standards, the Standard Minimum Rules states in principle 6 that all prison regulations are to be carried out on an impartial basis and, further, that “…it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.” The Standard Minimum Rules also recommends that space be provided for prisoners to practice their faith in conjunction with others, including through attendance at religious services in the facility. Rule 42 states, “…every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of his religious life by attending the services provided in the institution and having in his possession the books of religious observance and instruction of his denomination.”
991 Electronic communication to Human Rights Watch from a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, name withheld, September 3, 2000.
992 Ibid. It is not clear that the other prisoners were in fact homosexuals. The reference to “homosexuals” appers to have been an attempt by the prison authorities to instill fear in the targets of their harassment, independent Muslim prisoners, that they would be raped by fellow inmates.
993 Human Rights Watch interview with Nikolai Mitrokhin, New York, March 27, 2003.
994 Letter from an inmate in prison number 36, Navoi, name withheld, letter on file with Human Rights Watch. “A.A. and “B.B.” are not the respective captains’ true initials. Their names are on file with Human Rights Watch. The letter was provided to Human Rights Watch in July 2002.
995 Written report by human rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, April 2000.
997 Ibid. Prison officials reportedly failed to deliver much-needed food and medicine to Inagamov provided by his family.
998 Anonymous letter regarding prison conditions based on information received from prisoners, delivered to Human Rights Watch in June 2002, on file with Human Rights Watch. Fear of the punishment cell at the Kashkadaria prison was reportedly so great that one prisoner, Iuri Bushev, allegedly attempted suicide to avoid being sent there.
999 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of an independent Muslim prisoner, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, February 14, 2000.
1000 Human Rights Watch interview with a Karshi prisoner’s relative, name withheld at the interviewee’s request, Tashkent, August 1, 1999. The report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture also described punishment for prayer at Prison Number 44/49 in Karshi. The report notes that prison guards allegedly beat and kicked Alisher Khalikov and forced him to do push-ups as punishment for praying. It further adds, “[Khalikov] is said not to be able to benefit from an amnesty as the prison authorities are said to note every day that he is violating internal prison rules (inter alia, by praying).” Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven.
1001 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000. On his first day in prison, guards beat Abdurakhimov in order to force him to reject prayer. Meeting with then-U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Robert Seiple, and Human Rights Watch, name withheld, Tashkent, May 23, 2000. Abdurakhimov’s family was unable to locate him following his conviction and he was missing in custody for the first three months of his incarceration.
1002 Human Rights Watch interview with the relative of a Muslim prisoner, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, March 17, 2003.
1003 “Uzbek prisoners held for religious extremism threaten to riot if conditions don’t improve,” Bagila Bukharbayeva, Associated Press, Tashkent, July 29, 2002.
1004 Human Rights Watch interview with the wife of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, name withheld at her request, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
1005 Human Rights Watch interview with a female relative of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
1006 Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, p. 56.
1007 Anonymous letter regarding prison conditions based on information received from prisoners, delivered to Human Rights Watch June 2002, on file with Human Rights Watch.
1010 Ibid. The names of the rape victims have been withheld by Human Rights Watch.
1014 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, March 15, 2001. Kosymova was in prison together with Musaeva.
1015 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, December 23, 2000.
1016 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, February 6, 2001.
1018 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, March 15, 2001.
1019 Jaslyk prison’s official number is 64/71.
1020 “Uzbek activist tells Iranian radio about sorry plight of religious convicts,” excerpt of Iranian Radio Mashhad interview with HRSU director Tolib Iakubov, English translation in BBC Monitoring, April 23, 2002; and Human Rights Watch interview with attorney Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, October 30, 1999. A similar view was expressed by Matthew Brzezinski, “In Uzbekistan, Whatever it Takes: Central Asian strongmen appear to have been inspired by Genghis Khan,” The New York Times, December 16, 2001. The article referred to Jaslyk as a “desert gulag” that was “specifically constructed to house the growing influx of religious prisoners.”
1021 Those convicted on common criminal charges are reportedly held in a separate part of the facility, apart from those convicted on religious and political charges. Human Rights Watch interview with attorney Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999. Lack of information makes it difficult to determine whether certain Jaslyk inmates, convicted on common criminal charges, were targeted because of their religious ties. For example, in 1998 the Supreme Court sentenced fifteen men to prison terms in Jaslyk for a series of armed robberies and violent attacks in the Fergana Valley. Fourteen of the men were, according to Vasilia Inoiatova, students of disappeared Imam Abduvali Mirzoev and prior to their arrest had actively sought to find him. Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, January 27, 2000. Human Rights Watch did not have sufficient information at the time of this writing to determine whether the case against these men constituted a reprisal for their religious association and beliefs or was based on a legitimate law enforcement interest.
1022 Human Rights Watch interview with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Sadulla Asadov, Tashkent, October 1999.
1023 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Vasilia Inoiatova, who traveled by train to Jaslyk in December 1999, Tashkent, January 27, 2000; and Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, attorney for a Jaslyk prisoner, Tashkent, October 30, 1999.
1024 Human Rights Watch interview with Jaslyk police chief, Jaslyk, July 1999. The officer declined to give his name.
1025 The Special Rapporteur stated that a proper visit to Jaslyk required six hours. Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven. p. 15.
1026 Undated report by rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, based on interviews with several relatives of prisoners. On file with Human Rights Watch. For accounts of authorities’ failure to notify families of their relatives’ location in custody, see above in this chapter.
1027 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999. This treatment violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted 30 August 1995, Part 1, Section 21.
1028 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999; and undated report by rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, based on interviews with several relatives of prisoners. On file with Human Rights Watch.
1029 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999. A similar account was given by Vasila Inoiatova. Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, January 27, 2000.
1030 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999.
1031 Human Rights Watch interview with “F.F.” [not the woman’s true initials], Andijan, May 19, 2000.
1033 “A Letter from Jaslyk Prison,” author anonymous, provided to Human Rights Watch May 31, 2002. On file with Human Rights Watch.
1034 Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan report on Uzbekistan, translated into English and distributed by the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, January 3, 2000. On file with Human Rights Watch.
1035 “A Letter from Jaslyk Prison,” author anonymous, provided to Human Rights Watch May 31, 2002. On file with Human Rights Watch.
1036 Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, p. 31.
1037 Human Rights Watch interview with Abdumalik Nazarov’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999. Abdumalik Nazarov’s mother, Muharramkhon Nazarova, reported what Abdumalik told his father during a fifteen-minute visit in 2000 about his horrific arrival at Jaslyk. She said he was transported by plane along with 250 other prisoners from Tashkent. The men were forced to sit crouched with their heads bowed. Human Rights Watch interview with Muharramkhon Nazarova, Tashkent, February 19, 2000. This account was corroborated also by a local rights defender. Human Rights Watch interview with Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, January 27, 2000.
1038 Human Rights Watch interview with Abdumalik Nazarov’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, December 24, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with Muharramkhon Nazarova, Tashkent, February 19, 2000.
1039 Undated report by rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, based on her interviews with relatives of prisoners. On file with Human Rights Watch.
1040 Human Rights Watch interview with Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, January 27, 2000. Inoiatova reported that this information came from an interview with Mrs. Davletova.
1041 Human Rights Watch interview with “F.F.,” Andijan, May 19, 2000.
1043 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.
1046 Human Rights Watch documented a total of nine deaths of independent Muslims as a direct result of torture in prison. Seven of the men died while still incarcerated. Six of these were prisoners at Jaslyk prison. Two additional prisoners died at home within days of their release from custody. One of these prisoners had been incarcerated at Jaslyk. Human Rights Watch received reports about another six suspicious deaths of independent Muslim prisoners; four of the men were prisoners at the Jaslyk facility. Four additional men died in prison from illness compounded by torture; at least one of these prisoners had been held in Jaslyk. See, Human Rights Watch, “Deaths in Custody in Uzbekistan,” Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, April 4, 2003.
1047 See below in this chapter, the case of Khusniddin Khikmatov.
1048 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 9, 2002. The burns and bruising were later confirmed by photographic evidence. Photographs on file with Human Rights Watch.
1049 Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, p. 16. The report noted that a forensics expert at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom had concluded from examination of photographs of Avazov’s body that “[t]he pattern of scalding shows a well-demarcated line on the lower chest/abdomen, which could well indicate the forceful application of hot water whilst the person is within some kind of bath or similar vessel. Such scalding does not have the splash pattern that is associated with random application as one would expect with accidental scalding.” That report also noted that the director of Jaslyk prison contended that Avazov’s burns were the result of boiling water from teapots being thrown at him during a fight between prisoners, and the prison director’s theory that Avazov’s skin burned particularly fast because of his dark complexion.
1050 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 9, 2002.
1051 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a person close to the Alimov family, name withheld, August 9, 2002.
1052 “Letter from Jaslyk Prison,” author is anonymous, received by Human Rights Watch on May 31, 2002, on file with Human Rights Watch. The letter named the men responsible for the torture as being: senior lieutenant of the internal discipline department at the prison, Karim Atajonov, along with lieutenant Saitbai, officers Makhmud and Baktior, medical attendant Abad Utimurodov, and officers Otabek and Ziyod Jumaev.
1053 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 22, 2002.
1054 Verdict of the Tashkent City Court, issued by Judge M.A. Abduzhabbarov, September 25, 2001.
1055 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 22, 2002.
1058 Undated written statement from a person close to the case, name withheld, on file with Human Rights Watch; and Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, May 26, 2002.
1059 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 22, 2002.
1061 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, date withheld.
1062 Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Parpiev, names withheld, Andijan, May 18, 2000.
1063 This description of the body was given by those who viewed the corpse. Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Parpiev, names withheld, Andijan, May 18, 2000.
1064 Human Rights Watch, “Religious Persecution of Independent Muslims in Uzbekistan from September 2001 to July 2002,” Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, August 21, 2002.
1065 Written statement by rights defender Vasilia Inoiatova, dated July 25, 2000; and Human Rights Watch interview with Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, March 8, 2000.
1066 Rahim Juraev was visiting his son Beksot, whose case is described above in Chapter III.
1067 Human Rights Watch interview with Rahim Juraev, Tashkent, July 16, 2000; and written statement by Vasila Inoiatova, dated July 25, 2000.
1068 Written statement by Vasilia Inoiatova, dated July 25, 2000.
1070 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 27, 2001. Gafurov’s brother, arrested along with him, was sent to Tavaksai prison.