Uzbekistan’s law enforcement extended the scope of punishment and persecution of independent Muslims to include their relatives. This followed directly from President Karimov’s declaration of a collective punishment policy against independent Muslims.452 The police arrest the fathers, mothers, spouses, children, and siblings of wanted persons, and in some cases harass and arrest members of the extended families of suspects. These tactics enable the authorities to coerce suspects into surrendering to the police and confessing to crimes they did not commit. The authorities also stage “hate rallies” to exhibit prisoners and their relatives as examples of turpitude. The mahalla committees reinforce these persons’ social isolation and bring the weight of the state down upon the targeted community as a whole. The policy is, in effect, extrajudicial punishment of anyone associated with independent Muslims.
Tracking subversion through family networks is a legitimate law enforcement strategy. But in Uzbekistan, police do not merely “track” families of suspected independent Muslims. They use relatives—sometimes including young children—as leverage to compel a wanted person to turn himself in, or to compel testimony from a detainee. They also at times hold under house arrest the family members of detained individuals. In many cases, particularly those involving female relatives, family members are themselves accused of no crime. The way in which police detain and question relatives, or force them to sign self-incriminating statements, makes clear that beyond seeking to “track” subversion or conspiracy, the authorities seek to spread fear throughout the independent Muslim community, to compel its members to desist from independent prayer or study, and to convince others to do the same.
Below are details about the cases of arrest, detention, and physical mistreatment of the relatives of independent Muslims. A description and examples of the infamous “hate rallies” organized against family members of “enemies of the state,” can be found below in this chapter.
Official pressure on Imam Obidkhon Nazarov’s family began in December 1997, the earliest days of the government campaign against independent Muslims. The pretexts for the arrests and harassment that followed the imam’s disappearance in 1998 failed to hide the real motive behind the police actions, according to the family’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, who said, “None of them [Imam Nazarov’s relatives] was questioned about drugs or leaflets, they were only asked, ‘Where is Obidkhon?’”453 Relatives living in the Fergana Valley, especially Namangan, appeared to be particular targets of law enforcement. One family member explained that these relatives were “more vulnerable in Namangan, where police treat people like animals.”454
On December 26, 1997, at 8:30 a.m., Fergana province police detained the imam’s father, Sobitkhon, and two brothers, Umarkhon and Abdumalik. The men were taken to Fergana police headquarters, where their car was searched. Having found no incriminating materials during the first search, police took the keys to the car, and then searched the car a second time during the evening at which point they “discovered” twelve grams of marijuana in the trunk.455 Fergana authorities kept Sobitkhon and Umarkhon Nazarov in custody several days and then released them without charge, apparently in reaction to diplomatic outrage about the case.456
Abdumalik Nazarov, the imam’s youngest brother, was, however, placed under arrest on December 31, 1997, and charged with narcotics possession. Eyewitnesses present at his interrogation told Human Rights Watch that police threatened even more serious charges if the young man did not confess and said that he had been arrested so that “at least one Nazarov” would be in state custody.457 On May 4, 1998, Abdumalik, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, was tried in a Fergana district court and convicted on charges of narcotics possession and possession of falsified documents and sentenced to nine years in prison.458 The court’s verdict noted supposedly incriminating witness testimony that, “although young, he wore a beard.”459
Authorities transferred Abdumalik Nazarov (born 1973) to the infamous Jaslyk prison on May 29, 1999.460 His mother, Mukharramkhon Nazarova, told Human Rights Watch that during his meeting with his father, Sobitkhon, Abdumalik said that from May until December 1999 he was forced to sit in his cell and not allowed any exercise or fresh air. She said that he was being kept in a cell with sixteen other men, that four guards beat him seven times a day every day, that prayer is forbidden and that if any man in the cell attempts to pray, all of the men are beaten.461 This situation is yet another example of collective punishment which violates fundamental human rights principles.
Despite repeated appeals made on his behalf to the Uzbek authorities and requests for assistance from the government of Kyrgyzstan, he was denied access to his lawyer, Irina Mikulina. She was not allowed to meet him after May 1999.462
Abdumalik Nazarov was released on January 18, 2003, pursuant to a presidential amnesty decree of 2002.463 However, less than three months later police again took him into custody. According to his mother, who wrote to Human Rights Watch about the incident, Abdumalik went to the home of his brother, Imam Nazarov, to visit with his nephews on April 4, 2003. It was his first such visit since his release. As soon as he got to the door, armed police grabbed him and, after conducting a search of the Nazarov home, took him to the Sobir Rakhimov district police station. From there, police transferred him to the Tashkent city police department, where they kept him in a basement cell.464 Nazarov’s mother expressed her grief at the cruel turn of events, “Now, after all those years of waiting and hoping…they’ve taken him again…”465
Police detained Munira Nasriddinova, Imam Nazarov’s wife, and Mukharramkhon Nazarova, his mother, on February 21, 1999, during the initial round of sweeps following the Tashkent bombings. Officers reportedly physically mistreated the two women. Nazarova was released eight hours after her detention. Nasriddinova, however, was charged with “hooliganism” and held under administrative arrest for ten days.466 Nasriddinova’s lawyer was unable to locate her in custody for at least four days following her arrest.467 It was later revealed that she was held in a basement cell.468 According to an Amnesty International report, police interrogated Nasriddinova regarding her husband and Imam Tulkin Ergashev.469
Abdurashid Nasriddinov (Imam Nazarov’s brother-in-law) was arrested on or around March 1, 1999, and taken into police custody in Namangan. According to Mukharramkhon Nazarova, Nasriddinov, born in 1970, was held in a basement cell and deprived of food for seven days during pre-trial detention.470 Namangan Province Court Judge T.Z. Ibragimov sentenced him to eleven years in prison on charges of encroachment on the constitutional order and distribution of religious “extremist” literature.471 Much of the verdict dwells not on Nasriddinov but on Nazarov.472 In so far as the verdict discusses the case against Nasriddinov himself, it states that he was part of the “religious extremist movement” purportedly led by Obidkhon Nazarov, Tokhir Iuldash, and Juma Namangani. Supporting evidence included ten audio cassettes that he had given a friend for safe-keeping that were later found by police to contain verses from the Koran, as well as ten copies of a leaflet entitled, “Jihad: a pillar of Islam and its peak,” which police found in his home.473 One of the most striking moments in the verdict is when the judge asserts that although Nasriddinov maintained his innocence, the court found that in fact he did attend Gumbas (also known as Otallohon) mosque—revealing that affiliation with the so-called Wahhabi mosque was among the “crimes” in question.474 The court similarly ignored Nasriddinov’s rejection of the other charges against him. Judge T.Z. Ibragimov found Nasriddinov guilty of encroachment on the constitutional order, and preparation or distribution of materials containing ideas of religious extremism, separatism, and fundamentalism, and sentenced him to eleven years in a strict-regime prison, along with confiscation of his property. The evidence including the leaflets was ordered destroyed.475 Destruction of evidence is common in cases involving charges of narcotics or weapons possession, but less common when the material evidence is paper documents.
Abdurashid Nasriddinov was imprisoned in Kashkadaria (prison number 64/51). In February 2000 the Nazarov family’s lawyer, Mikulina, reported that she had visited Nasriddinov in prison in December 1999 and at a prison infirmary in February 2000, where she saw that he was seriously ill.476 She said, “They beat him so badly, his nerves are shot…. Now he has a nervous disorder…. He can’t stand on his own, he can’t even talk…. If he has to go back [to the regular prison facility], he will be in bad shape.”477 She reported that the infirmary’s chief physician had told her there was no way to treat Nasriddinov at the infirmary because he had been convicted under criminal code article 159 and “we can’t treat political prisoners.”478
Akhmadali Salamov and Umarkhon Nazarov
On March 17, 1999, fifteen armed police officers raided the Namangan home of Akhmadali Salamov, Imam Nazarov’s uncle, and arrested him and Nazarov’s brother, Umarkhon Nazarov, who was visiting.479
Salamov and Nazarov were tried in the Namangan Province Court and sentenced on May 20, 1999, by separate judges. Umarkhon Nazarov, a Kyrgyz citizen, and Salamov were charged with encroachment on the constitutional order and preparation or distribution of materials containing ideas of religious extremism, separatism, and fundamentalism. Nazarov and Salamov denied all of the charges against them.480
Salamov told the court that he believed he had been arrested because of his relation to Obidkhon Nazarov.481 Indeed, the first half of the verdicts against the two men were identical and contained references to Imam Obidkhon Nazarov’s mosques as among the “Wahhabi” mosques and to the imam as one of the leaders of a supposed “ultra-reactionary” Islamic movement and criminal group.482
The court, in its decision against Umarkhon Nazarov, cited “incriminating” witness testimony certifying that police had found a “Sharp” brand tape recorder, several audio tapes, and unidentified books in Arabic in a trunk in Salamov’s house, where Umarkhon Nazarov was a guest.483 It was further alleged that in Nazarov’s jacket police had discovered four copies of a leaflet entitled, “The Prophet says: Jihad is a pillar of Islam and its peak.” The Namangan Province Court sentenced Umarkhon Nazarov to eleven years in a strict-regime prison and confiscation of his property.484
The specific evidence presented against Salamov was witness testimony that five of the aforementioned leaflets were supposedly found in a variety of rooms during a police search of his home.485 Salamov was sentenced to four years in prison.
Like his brother, Abdumalik, Umarkhon Nazarov also had a harrowing tale to tell regarding his transport to prison in the Kashkadaria province (prison number 64/51). His mother, Mukharramkhon Nazarova, said that she and other relatives had visited him in September 1999 and that he had told them that he’d been transported by train in July (a particularly hot month in Uzbekistan) and had been forced to stand in the train car along with about seventy other men during the three-hour trip from Tashkent. He said that by the time the train arrived at Karshi city in Kashkadaria, one of the men in his wagon had died.486
Akhmadali Salamov was also sent to the prison in Kashkadaria in August 1999. According to the family’s lawyer, Salamov’s mother reported that during a visit in September 1999 she saw bruises on his body and could tell that he had been badly beaten.487 According to his attorney, Salamov was released under a presidential amnesty decree issued in 2002, approximately seventy days before his scheduled release.488
Authorities used other methods of intimidation against the Nazarov family in addition to the arrest of the imam’s relatives. Pursuant to a court order, Tashkent police attempted to evict Nazarov and his family from their home on April 21, 1998. The effort, illegal since the Nazarov family had not yet exhausted its right to appeal the court ruling, failed when the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and U.S. diplomatic representatives joined journalists and local supporters of the imam to observe the police action and prevent the eviction.489
Imam Nazarov’s wife and mother were also subjected to humiliating and intimidating public denunciations by police and local authorities.490
On March 17, 2001, officers from Tashkent police headquarters arrested Rakhima Akhmedalieva, wife of Imam Rukhiddin Fakhruddinov.491 Authorities had labeled Fakhruddinov a “Wahhabi” and he was believed to be in hiding since at least 1998, fearing arrest.492 Police held the imam’s wife hostage, conditioning her release on his surrender. Police mistreated her, using psychological and physical pressure. When her nineteen-year-old daughter, Odina Maksudova, sought her mother, she too was detained and was forced to incriminate and verbally abuse her mother, as well as threatened with police reprisals against her very young siblings.493 Maksudova was detained again later in March as retribution for her complaints to the international community and in an attempt by police to intimidate her into silence. Throughout, as she wrote in a letter to the international community, police pressured both Maksudova and her mother for information on Imam Fakhruddinov’s whereabouts.494
According to Maksudova, Tashkent police ambushed the family home on March 17, 2001, and began breaking down the door and banging on the barred windows. When the family opened the door, out of fear, officers rushed in and initiated a search of the house without presenting a warrant or order of any kind.495 Maksudova, who was present during the police search, reported that officers planted leaflets in the house and then claimed to have “found” them.496 In the course of the search, which was videotaped by police, officers also confiscated the family’s Koran. Akhmedalieva was arrested on unspecified charges, and authorities failed to inform her children of her whereabouts in custody.497 After searching the house, police searched Akhmedalieva’s son’s car, in which they claimed to find additional leaflets.498
Odina Maksudova went to Tashkent police headquarters on March 20, seeking her mother. Instead of assisting her, police detained the young woman for twenty-four hours.499 Maksudova reported being taken down to the basement where her mother was held and finding her mother exhausted. She had been deprived of sleep and of medicine she needed for a chronic heart condition.500 Threatening the young woman with physical abuse, officers forced her to write a statement incriminating her mother and to curse and renounce her verbally.501 Officers removed the headscarves of both women in the basement, and the officer in charge ordered Maksudova not to wear religious dress or to pray anymore.502 In the days that followed, the knowledge that police had used her to exert psychological pressure on her mother tormented Maksudova, who wrote, “Now I can’t forgive myself for these deeds, because my mother is a good and pure woman.”503
The officers made clear Akhmedalieva’s status as their hostage by demanding as a condition for her mother’s release that Maksudova provide them with information on her step-father’s whereabouts.504 In addition to threatening the young woman with violence, the officers beat a prisoner in front of her and threatened to place her six-year-old sister and three-year-old brother in an orphanage, “so they [won’t] become ‘Wahhabi.’”505
Maksudova was detained again for four hours on March 26, 2001, when she went to the U.N. Mission in Tashkent to deliver the appeal letter she had written on behalf of her mother. The letter was confiscated by Tashkent police who forced her to disavow the appeal.506
Imam Fakhruddinov did not turn himself over to police and Akhmedalieva was formally placed under arrest and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the state, membership in a religious extremist group, and possession of religious extremist literature. The state alleged that she and her seven co-defendants had been members of a “Wahhabi organization” led by her husband, Imam Fakhruddinov, together with Imam Nazarov.507 In September 2001 the Tashkent City Court sentenced her to seven years in prison.
Following Akhmedalieva’s incarceration, police repeatedly compelled Odina Maksudova to report for questioning, searched her home, and threatened criminal charges against her. As of February 2003, concern expressed by rights defenders regarding the case appeared to have forestalled further police action against the imam’s children.508
When Nakmiddin Juvashev, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, asked the authorities for forgiveness, as President Karimov had called on people to do, he was arrested, tortured, tried, sentenced, and released on appeal. He was subsequently re-arrested, physically mistreated, tried, sentenced, and sent back to prison.509 A nephew, Yadgar Sodykov, arrested with him on August 5, 2000, was held by National Security Service officers in Jizzakh and beaten in order to coerce the young man to incriminate his uncle. Officers released Sodykov the same day they detained him but in dire physical condition. He was hospitalized with a concussion and ruptured aural membrane.510 The next day, National Security Service agents came to the hospital and took Sodykov, on a stretcher, back to detention.511 At the National Security Service department in Jizzakh, they forced him to write that his uncle had resisted arrest and other testimony they wanted regarding Juvashev. Sodykov charged: “...they beat me terribly and then released me, saying, ‘If you go back to the hospital, next time we’ll bring back your corpse!’”512 A few days later, after he was interrogated and released again, Sodykov vanished; a relative close to the case told Human Rights Watch he had “probably fled” to seek medical treatment and avoid further abuse.513 In his own letter to authorities before his departure, Sodykov wrote: “Because of the poor state of my health, I am forced to get treatment in a hospital, even in another country…in Uzbekistan there is no more justice…”514
At 5:30 a.m. on September 6, 2000, the day after Sodykov’s detention, seven men in civilian clothes came to the home of Idrisbek Umarkulov, Nakhmiddin Juvashev’s brother. When the family refused to open the door, the officers entered by charging over the fence. They showed no warrant to enter the premises or conduct a search. When Umarkulov demanded to see a warrant, an officer grabbed him and pulled him away. Police grabbed his nineteen-year-old daughter by her hair and pulled her out of the way as well.515 “E.E.,” a family member present at the time, said the plainclothes officers identified themselves as National Security Service and announced they were there to conduct a search. E.E. recalled, “Idrisbek Umarkulov came out and they twisted his arms behind his back and hit him.”516 According to Umarkulov’s wife, who was present, he cried out to neighbors, who came over to the house.517 “Then police said they were going to put my son and daughter and Idris in handcuffs, and I fainted,” Umarkulov’s wife recalled.518
She regained consciousness half an hour later to find that the house had been ransacked and that police officers were stationed in a car outside her gate.519 Then the officers, who had discovered nothing incriminating during their first search of the premises, said that the head of the Jizzakh branch of the National Security Service, Abdumannob Makhmudov, had ordered a second search.520 Officers forced Umarkulov’s wife and children, altogether eight family members, into the bathroom, preventing them from witnessing this second search. But neighbors allegedly saw the security forces approach a woodpile near the cow pen, where the agents claimed to find a plastic bag containing a sawed-off shotgun and sixteen bullets for a Makarov pistol.521 E.E. noted that the officers did not conduct any further search of the premises after they had “found” the items in the woodpile.522
Security agents took Idrisbek Umarkulov and his son Sahobiddin Umarkulov, then twenty-three years old, into custody. E.E. reported that officers at the Jizzakh National Security Service beat Sahobiddin to force him to say that the gun belonged to his father, to incriminate himself as a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and to say that his uncle, Nakhmiddin Juvashev, had been his religious teacher and had been living in his home during the months he was missing.523 Sahobiddin, who reportedly was not a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, refused to incriminate himself and his relatives. According to E.E., a security officer handcuffed one of Sahobiddin’s wrists to the leg of his chair and hit him in the ribs, stomach, and on the head to force him to sign the “confession.”524 He eventually signed a statement acknowledging that police had found a gun on the family’s woodpile but saying that he did not know how it got there.525 However, the officers in charge were dissatisfied with his testimony and subjected the young man to further coercion and physical abuse to compel him to incriminate his relatives.526
The Umarkulov family had hired a private lawyer, Birboi Mamatov, immediately after father and son were detained, and he secured the release of Sahobiddin at 11:00 p.m. According to his mother, one of the young man’s hands was swollen, his cheek was red from being hit by the officer, and he complained that his kidneys hurt because officers had hit him repeatedly in the small of his back.527
Idrisbek Umarkulov was placed under arrest and went on trial for possession of the shotgun and ammunition and a later-added charge of anti-constitutional activity. On that latter charge, the evidence against him consisted mainly of neighbors’ statements—all later recanted. The people in question testified that the statements had been fabricated by the National Security Services and were false, forcing the prosecution to drop this charge.528 One of the neighbors who witnessed the search testified in court that she had seen the officers plant the plastic bag (containing the gun) in the woodpile.529 The Jizzakh Province Court ignored these exculpatory statements and sentenced Umarkulov to six years in prison for illegal weapons possession.530
Twenty-nine-year-old Mirzakarim Avazov was arrested on July 24, 2000, while his older brother, Muzafar Avazov, was in National Security Service custody on charges of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir. Human Rights Watch interviewed a person close to the case, who witnessed the arrest and followed closely the details of the brothers’ detention, trials, and subsequent incarceration. According to this source, police arrested Mirzakarim Avazov to coerce his brother to sign self-incriminating statements that, even under torture, he had refused to sign.531 The same person pointed out that Mirzakarim Avazov “had no leaflets on him or anything.”532 This source told Human Rights Watch that officers at the Tashkent police headquarters beat him in front of his older brother.533 The U.S. State Department reported in 2001 that, “Members of the National Security Service reportedly tortured Mirzakarim with electric shocks in front of his brother until Mirzafar [sic] agreed to sign a statement incriminating himself and others.”534
Mirzakarim Avazov remained incommunicado for seven months, and was not provided with a lawyer.535 Authorities charged him with distribution of materials containing ideas of religious extremism, separatism or fundamentalism; organization of or participation in an illegal religious group; participation in a religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist or other banned organization; and “activity as part of a group to encroach upon the constitutional order of the Republic.” He was tried together with twenty-three other accused members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in a Tashkent City Court trial held at the Akmal Ikramov District Court in Tashkent. According to the verdict, Mirzakarim Avazov denied having distributed Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets and testified that statements given to police during the investigative period of the case had been coerced and extracted “under pressure.”536
Avazov was sentenced to sixteen years in prison while twelve of his co-defendants received prison terms ranging from fifteen to eighteen years.537 Another ten men were sentenced to seven to ten years in prison.538 Mirzakarim Avazov was imprisoned in a Novoi province facility, where, it was reported, he contracted a serious form of tuberculosis.539 According to a person close to the case, police threatened to kill him if his family discussed the circumstances of his brother Muzafar’s death in custody and the government cover-up that followed.540
Uzbek authorities were unable to locate the independent imam Tulkin Ergashev, so they arrested his son and brother instead.541 State authorities targeted both men, mistreated them, and sentenced them to long prison terms solely because of their relationship with the imam.
Police arrested the imam’s younger brother, Abdullo Mirazimov, from his home on the night of February 17, 1999.542 In court, Mirazimov testified that police had previously summoned him many times for questioning about his brother’s whereabouts, and that when he—Mirazimov—was detained in February, questioning again focused exclusively on the imam, not on the charges that Mirazimov himself was facing.543 According to a person close to the case, officers beat Mirazimov during interrogation to force him to reveal his brother’s location.544
Although the imams Ergashev and Nazarov were accused of being “Wahhabis,” Mirazimov was charged with membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir.545 According to the judge’s verdict, supporting evidence amounted only to a police claim that officers had found Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets and a copy of Al-Vai, a magazine published by Hizb ut-Tahrir, in Mirazimov’s home along with other unspecified religious books.546
An additional charge of illegal possession of narcotics was based on the police claim that officers found about four grams of heroin in Mirazimov’s shirt pocket. The court ruled that Mirazimov had stored the literature in order to distribute it later and thereby create a “destabilizing atmosphere,” and he was convicted of attempted overthrow of the state and illegal possession of narcotics.547
The night after Mirazimov’s arrest, police came for the imam’s son, Khojiakbar Ergashev, born 1975.548 Ten men carried out the arrest, some in civilian clothes and others in special forces (OMON) uniforms, wearing black masks and carrying Kalashnikov rifles. Storming over the wall and into the courtyard of the Ergashev home, they demanded to know the whereabouts of Imam Ergashev and showed a search warrant. While the masked officers stood on the rooftop, plainclothes officers went to the sitting room, where they allegedly planted narcotics under the carpet.549 Not finding Khojiakbar Ergashev at home, police threatened that if he did not return soon they would detain his mother instead.550 They confiscated religious books belonging to the imam’s family and said there would be additional charges brought regarding the books.551 According to those close to the case, however, these were all mainstream religious books and included no prohibited materials or even religious leaflets.552 At that point, Khojiakbar Ergashev returned home from the hospital where his wife, who had recently given birth, had received treatment. Officers informed him that they had found narcotics in the house, that they would take him in for questioning and would then release him.553 They took Khojiakbar Ergashev directly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where they held him incommunicado for one week under the supervision of investigator Yadgar Makhmudov. Police then transferred him to Tashkent prison, where his family was initially unable to see him, but was eventually allowed to meet with him. According to a person close to the case, Ergashev told his lawyer that Ministry of Internal Affairs agents had tortured him.554 As they had done with the imam’s brother, police questioned Ergashev’s son exclusively about his father and his father’s whereabouts and disregarded the charges that had served as pretext for his arrest.555
Khojiakbar’s mother, Shahzoda Ergasheva, the imam’s wife, was picked up on February 23 and held for fourteen days. According to a source close to the case, the police interrogation of her also revealed that the young man had been taken into custody only because his father was wanted by police; and that authorities were essentially holding the son hostage in order to compel the family to disclose Imam Ergashev’s whereabouts.556 One officer told Ergasheva, “If your husband returns, we will release you on the spot, but if he doesn’t come back, your son will go to jail and so will you.”557 Upon her release on March 8, Ergasheva returned home to find that police had occupied her house. For the next week, three to four officers held her under house arrest—resting in her courtyard, sitting in her kitchen, and eating the food she was obliged to prepare for them—until they received a call saying that the detention period was over.558 Ergasheva became seriously ill and was sent to hospital, where relatives were allegedly afraid to visit her, knowing that anyone seen with the family would be considered suspect by the police.559
The Tashkent City Court under Judge V.N. Sharipov tried Khojiakbar Ergashev in May 1999. When called to testify, the young man denied all charges against him and refused to ask for forgiveness.560 Judge Sharipov ruled that young Ergashev, under the leadership of his father and two other men, used the “mask of Islamic religion” to call for the overthrow of the established state of Uzbekistan in order to form a Caliphate, or Islamic state, “armed with destabilizing books.”561 The verdict, citing a decision of the Committee on Religious Affairs of the Cabinet of Ministers, found that the literature that police claimed they found in the Ergashev home was anti-state. The judge sentenced Khojiakbar Ergashev to twelve years in prison for anti-constitutional activities and illegal possession of narcotics, later reduced to six years by the Supreme Court.562 The imam’s son is incarcerated in Novoi prison.
Farhod Usmanov, an accused Hizb ut-Tahrir member and son of a prominent imam, died in police detention in June 1999 (his case is described in “Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-trial Detention” in Chapter IV). His youngest brother had been arrested in April, his son was arrested in June. After his death, two more of his brothers were arrested in December 1999 and January 2001, as were his uncle and widow, all on charges of Hizb ut-Tahrir membership.563 While his widow is a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, it is unclear whether Usmanov’s other arrested relatives rejected the charges of membership in the group. The vigor with which government agents pursued the Usmanov family suggests that charges against many of the Usmanovs may have been brought because of their family connection to Farhod Usmanov.
Seventeen-year-old Oyatullo Usmanov, Farhod Usmanov’s son, was arrested by officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs sometime in June 1999 and charged with attempted overthrow of the government. He was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Bashorad Jalilova of the Tashkent Province Court in March 2000.564 According to local rights defender Ismail Adylov, the sentence was later reduced and, when he had served his term, Oyatullo Usmanov was released on January 3, 2001.565 Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain details regarding the conditions of his release.
Police arrested one of Farhod Usmanov’s brothers, Ravkhat, on December 31, 1999. Authorities charged him with attempted overthrow of the state, distribution of religious extremist literature, failure to report a crime, and organization of a criminal association.566 Ravkhat Usmanov’s trial was scheduled to begin on April 23, 2000, at the Chilanzar District Court in Tashkent, and Human Rights Watch attempted to monitor the hearing. The judge postponed it, declaring that the defense lawyer had failed to arrive. But Human Rights Watch’s representative spoke to a woman exiting the building who had been in the judge’s chambers when he made the declaration about postponement and who in fact was the defense lawyer. Human Rights Watch later learned that Judge Meliev sentenced Ravkhat Usmanov to fourteen years in prison.567 A relative expressed concern for him, as he suffers from epilepsy.568
On January 14, 2001, police detained Farhod Usmanov’s brother-in-law, Faizullo Agzamov, born 1969. A local rights defender reported Agzamov was held incommunicado in the basement of Tashkent police headquarters during pre-trial detention and that the same police investigator responsible for Farhod Usmanov’s case was in charge of his brother-in-law’s investigation.569 The officer denied Agzamov’s family any meetings with him.570
Agzamov was accused of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir and was tried along with nine other men on charges of anti-constitutional activity, possession and distribution of “extremist” religious literature, and, in Agzamov’s case, illegal sale or acquisition of foreign currency.571 Agzamov denied the charges, declaring that he was not a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir at all.572
The state claimed that the late Farhod Usmanov had “drawn” Agzamov into Hizb ut-Tahrir and that, under Usmanov’s leadership, Agzamov had subsequently taken an oath to the group and assumed a central role among its Tashkent leadership. In the verdict’s discussion of the charges against Agzamov, the court named Usmanov as one of the supposed founders of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Uzbekistan—he was not listed as a founder of the group in the discussions of the cases of the other nine men on trial.573 Despite the emphasis on Usmanov in the sections of the verdict dealing with Agzamov, nowhere is it mentioned that the two men were related.574 Tashkent City Court Judge M.A. Abdujabarov sentenced Agzamov to seventeen years in prison on September 25, 2001. His co-defendants were given sentences ranging from three years probation and a fine to seventeen years in prison.575
Shukrullo Agzamov, another of Farhod Usmanov’s brothers-in-law, was sentenced to a seven-year prison term.576 He was subsequently released in August 2002. Farhod Usmanov’s uncle, the brother of Imam Nosir Kori Usmanov, was also arrested following Farhod’s death and sentenced to an unknown number of years in prison.577
Local police in Khazorasp in the western province of Khorezm branded the Ruzmetov family “Wahhabi,” and arrested and tortured brothers Uigun and Oibek Ruzmetov. They also detained and physically mistreated their mother, Darmon Sultanova, held Sultanova and her daughter and grandchildren under house arrest, and arrested Sultanova’s husband Sobir Ruzmetov on trumped-up charges.
Arrested in late December 1998, Uigun and Oibek Ruzmetov were tortured and forced to confess to serious anti-state crimes, including terrorism, sentenced to death, and executed.578
According to Sultanova, police began harassing the family in November and December 1998. She told Human Rights Watch:
On the day police came to arrest her sons, police made clear that they had targeted the family for its members’ religious beliefs and activities. Sultanova recalled, “On December 28 seven guys with weapons came to our house at night. I remember two of them: Kadir Saparov and Kodir Atabaev. They demanded to know who in the house prays, and who reads the Koran.”580 Five officers occupied the house that night and continued to keep family members under armed house arrest for the next forty days.581
On December 29 some 200 to 300 armed officers raided the Ruzmetov home and claimed to find bullets in a jar and morphine in the room of Sultanova’s mentally disabled daughter. Police also confiscated a copy of the Koran in Arabic, a book of the hadith of Imam al-Bukhari,582 and six copies of sura (chapters) of the Koran in Uzbek.583 Uigun, Oibek, and Sobir Ruzmetov were placed under arrest that day.
Darmon Sultanova and Sobir Ruzmetov were interrogated at the Urgench police station on January 5, 1999. Sultanova was taken into custody during the night and held at the station for twenty-four hours. She recalled the police interrogation, “They insulted me. They asked me, ‘Who comes to visit you? Who reads the Koran in your house?’”584 The officers’ primary motive for taking Sultanova into custody appears, however, to have been as a means of psychological torture and coercion of her sons. According to Sultanova, the officers stripped her down to her underwear in a basement cell at the police station and handcuffed her to a radiator.585 Then, they paraded her bruised and bloody sons past her to force the young men to sign self-incriminating statements.586 It was later revealed in court that police had threatened to imprison the young men’s parents.587 Officers also allegedly threatened to arrest or rape Uigun’s wife if he did not sign a confession and told him his children had already been placed in an orphanage.588 The Ruzmetov brothers both signed confessions on serious anti-state charges.
Sultanova was released to police who were occupying her house. Sultanova, herself a nurse by profession, said that her health was so poor during the first four hours after her release that emergency medical assistance had to make several visits to the house.589 Sultanova, her daughter Zioda, and her grandchildren were held under armed house arrest for the next month, until February 6, 1999. In interviews and written communications with Human Rights Watch, Sultanova detailed valuable possessions—including a gold watch awarded to her as a “Veteran of Labor”—she claims police stole from her during their occupation of her home. She reported that police destroyed household appliances and furniture before they departed in February.590 Sultanova described the police treatment of her and her daughter during house arrest as unbearable. “They beat me several times, saying I was a Wahhabi and asking me where I got my books,” Sultanova recalled, “I said I just pray five times a day and only in Uzbek, I don’t even read Arabic.”591 She reported that the five male officers confined her daughter to her room for the forty days and did not allow her to come out even to use the bathroom. She said that the officers occupying her home made repeated threats to kill members of the family.592 Sultanova also told Human Rights Watch about actions the police took to further isolate the family. She said, “Police officers went around to all our relatives carrying weapons, automatic rifles, and said that our family is Wahhabi and told them not to help us or talk to us. They went to our neighbors and friends and relatives and said this. They threatened our neighbors and others and said not to help that ‘Wahhabi family’ that has weapons.”593 In this case, the threats appeared to have successfully frightened others from interacting with or supporting the Ruzmetovs. Sultanova said, “Now, when I walk down the street, everyone runs away. They were all threatened and told mine is a bad family.”594
Sobir Ruzmetov, a retired medical doctor, was interrogated on January 5, 1999. He was arrested on trumped-up charges of illegal narcotics possession, tried, convicted, sentenced, and sent to prison. Three years later he was released pursuant to the 2001 presidential amnesty decree.
Police subjected Ruzmetov to physical abuse during pre-trial detention. According to Sultanova, who met with him afterwards, police beat the sixty-five-year-old Ruzmetov on the genitals and he was unable to walk for some time after.595 According to Sultanova, Ruzmetov was denied the right to counsel, “They took him to trial…in leg irons… and tried him without a lawyer. He asked for a lawyer, but they said, ‘he didn’t come.’”596 The Khazorasp District Court convicted Ruzmetov on charges of illegal possession of narcotics on May 29, 1999, and sentenced him to five years in prison. He was sent to a facility in Novoi province. After meeting with him in June 2000, Sultanova told Human Rights Watch that her husband had cried and asked about their sons. She said he told her, “They’ll kill you if you pray here, they don’t allow it.”597 Sultanova told Human Rights Watch that her husband had stopped praying because he feared the beatings.598
The ill-treatment Ruzmetov endured in prison, combined presumably with the execution of his sons, left him in poor physical and psychological condition upon his release.599
Persecution of the Isakhojaev family for Abdurashid Isakhojaev’s alleged affiliation with Imam Nazarov did not stop with the young man’s conviction or his transfer to the harsh Jaslyk prison. After the February 1999 bombings in Tashkent, local police began to summon Abdurashid’s younger brother Muzafar for questioning nearly every week. Police called him on the telephone repeatedly and visited his parents’ home looking for him. According to his mother, as of June 2000, Muzafar had been detained once and taken in for questioning some fifty times since the Tashkent bombings.600 He shaved his beard to avoid problems with the police, but this apparently failed to satisfy them. According to his mother, police continued to harass him because “...his brother is in jail and ... he prays.”601 The combination of being related to a so-called enemy of the state and overtly manifesting his own piety through his appearance and religious practice served to put Muzafar at particular risk. Sharifa Isakhojaeva told Human Rights Watch that her other two sons who did not pray had not reported harassment by police.602
Along with his brothers, Polvonnazar Khojaev was known throughout his community as particularly devout, and was wanted by police on charges of “Wahhabism” and “religious extremism.” Unable to locate him, police in Khiva, the main city in Khorezm province in western Uzbekistan, focused their attention on his father, Azim, a local metal worker and father of six. (Polvonnazar, it was later discovered, had been living in Russia). According to a person close to the case, beginning in January 1999, local police would come to the house twice a week to summon Azim Khojaev to the police station where officers interrogated him about the whereabouts of Polvonnazar and his other sons.603 Nazira Ishchanova, Azim Khojaev’s wife, reportedly said that the police were “interested in the religious devotion of [the] sons.”604 But the young men were abroad and Azim Khojaev either could not or would not compel them to turn themselves over to police. According to one report, as police intimidation increased, Nazira Ischanova asked officers on April 2, 1999, what they were planning to do. A policeman answered matter-of-factly, “We will arrest your husband instead of your sons.”605 Police also told a member of the Khojaev family, “If we wanted, we could put a tank in your yard and say it was yours.”606 Police arrested the forty-eight-year-old Azim Khojaev on charges of possession of marijuana on April 4, 1999—the very day that a senior government official publicly announced a policy to make fathers pay for the supposed wrongdoings of their sons. Police held Khojaev in custody until his June 11 trial. The Khiva District Court convicted him in just forty-five minutes and sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of narcotics possession.607 A person present at the court hearing gave the following account:
Azim Khojaev died in Jaslyk prison on July 2, 1999 (just twenty days after his conviction). The official death certificate gave the cause of his death as “acute failure of the left stomach.”609 The family was denied the right to view his body or to be present during the Muslim burial rites when the body was delivered some eleven days after Khojaev’s death.610 A person who saw the body briefly and who spoke with someone who washed Khojaev’s body in preparation for burial, told Human Rights Watch that the body showed signs of torture.611 This source told Human Rights Watch that Khojaev’s body was bruised on the right-hand side, that there was grazing on his side and buttocks, a cut to the back of the head, and that he had no fingernails.612
In some cases, police harassment of relatives appeared aimed more at exacting revenge than at extracting information. The case of “Abdulaziz Azimov” (not the man’s true name) illustrates this pattern. Azimov suffered social pressure immediately after his son was taken into custody for “Wahhabism” in 1998.613 The private shop where Azimov worked in Andijan fired him explicitly because of the charges against his son. Two months later, local police summoned Azimov for interrogation. He did not comply with the police request for two days, and when he did go to the station, police treated him with extreme brutality. The officers kept Azimov for twelve hours, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., during which time they beat him continuously with nightsticks, on the back and kidney area, accusing him of being a “Wahhabi,” just as they had his son. The police brutality was visible, according to a person who saw Azimov immediately after his release. “He returned home at 9:00 p.m. only half-alive. His whole body, except for his face, was covered in bruises, four of his ribs were broken, and he had serious problems with his kidneys…He lay at home for twenty days to rest,”614 the source told Human Rights Watch. He declined to go to the doctor because police had warned him that if he complained about the beatings they would arrest him. Two years after the incident, Azimov still reportedly suffered from trauma. A person close to the case told Human Rights Watch that he shook and trembled all the time and appeared to be psychologically damaged.615 In June 2000 he was re-arrested on charges of illegal narcotics possession.
Family members of convicts were forced to report monthly to local police to recount their activities and swear that they had not attended any protests or prohibited gatherings. Some were compelled to sign loyalty oaths to the government and statements avowing that they were not members of any religious sects. Numerous relatives of religious prisoners were “put on the list,” that is, registered with police as suspicious individuals. In at least one episode, authorities pressured family members of imprisoned independent Muslims to publicly “confess” to their own involvement in “extremist” activities in exchange for the state’s forgiveness.
Just days before the presidential election, around January 6, 2000, officers from the Biktimir police station on the outskirts of Tashkent detained the wife of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, who had been arrested in April 1999 and sentenced to seventeen years in prison on “religious extremism” charges.619 A relative reported that the officers who detained her in January 2000 kept Abdurakhimov’s wife for three days.620 Her arrest was among other administrative measures authorities took against religious dissidents in the run-up to the elections.
When Abdurakhimov was arrested in April 1999, his wife followed police officers as they dragged her husband from the family’s apartment in handcuffs. According to an eyewitness, one officer beat her there in the corridor, hitting her on the back of the neck three times with a crowbar that officers initially had used to try to force their way into the house.621 After the beating, when the family reported to the Biktimir department of criminal investigations that they planned to take her to the hospital for a medical exam, the deputy of criminal investigations threatened her saying, “If you do, we will open a case against you too.”622 She did not seek medical treatment for her injuries or a doctor’s report regarding their origin.623
Some prisoners’ relatives were required to report their activities not only to the police but also to their local mahalla committee. These committees also conducted their own door-to-door surveillance of relatives of religious suspects and convicts. According to a local rights defender in Fergana city, the mahalla committees there have been tasked with intense surveillance of residents, including physically following their movements.630
One important goal of this campaign is to stigmatize independent Muslims in the eyes of their fellow citizens, to halt proselytizing on the one hand and, on the other, to cut off neighbors’ support for the religious prisoners’ families. In addition to the “hate rallies” organized by local officials, even stricter measures are sometimes employed. One acquaintance of the Abdurakhimov family was detained and held for ten days by local police who threatened that if he continued to help families of those arrested the police would “destroy you all.” After police detained him, the man stopped helping Abdurakhimov’s family.633
Fear for the safety of relatives appears to have been one of the motives for some independent Muslims to turn themselves in to police and to ask for forgiveness for their independent religious activity. What appeared to be several such instances were broadcast on national television in 2001. President Karimov had declared on September 6, 2000, that the government would pardon those people who had “mistakenly” joined “terrorist groups.” By January 2001 Tashkent prosecutors claimed to have begun implementation of the presidential decree. National television broadcast the news along with statements by young men who allegedly had been members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and had been released as a result of this review process. Their statements gave reason to fear that the men had been coerced to appear on television out of concern for the well-being of their fathers. One man said he surrendered to police and asked for forgiveness after his father was imprisoned. Another, Umidjon Inoiatov, introduced as a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, told the television camera, “They told us that they would teach us Arabic and Koran and then we agreed. They taught us from a book, but then I gradually gave it up. Then in line with the decree, I returned and apologized and was pardoned.”636 The television presenter’s next statement spoke volumes, “It turns out a search has been announced for your father in connection with this. What would you like to say, taking this opportunity?” The young man replied, on cue, “We want him to take advantage of the decree and return to his family.”637
452 See above, “Brief Chronological Overview” in Chapter II.
453 Meeting with then-United States Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Robert Seiple and Human Rights Watch, Tashkent, May 23, 2000.
454 Human Rights Watch interview with a Nazarov family member, name withheld, Tashkent, May 28, 2001.
455 Human Rights Watch, “Crackdown in The Farghona Valley: Arbitrary Arrests and Religious Discrimination,” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 10, No. 4 (D) May 1998.
458 The falsified documents charge was based on the discovery of several pieces of paper in the home of Abdumalik Nazarov’s parents and which had the words “Asian Muslim Committee” printed on them in several languages, including Arabic. Verdict issued by Judge A. Khudoinazarov of the Fergana District Court, May 4, 1998.
460 For a detailed description of the physical mistreatment he encountered upon arrival at that prison, see below, “Treatment in Prison” in Chapter IV.
461 Human Rights Watch interview with Muharramkhon Nazarova, Tashkent, February 19, 2000.
462 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, February 19, 2000. People can visit Jaslyk prison only by official “invitation” from authorities. As of January 2003, Ministry of Internal Affairs officials, who run the prison system in Uzbekistan, had denied Mikulina permission to see her client. During a visit to the town of Jaslyk in July 1999, a Human Rights Watch representative was told by a local police chief that the permission of President Karimov was required even to enter the city limits. People arriving by train to the area who are not in possession of an official letter granting them access are not allowed to disembark at Jaslyk. Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, October 30, 1999. Relatives of prisoners were first granted access to the prison visiting area by invitation in December 1999.
463 Human Rights Watch interview with Nazarov’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, March 25, 2003.
464 Written appeal to Human Rights Watch and other organizations, from Muharramkhon Nazarova, Abdumalik’s mother, April 8, 2003, transmitted electronically.
466 Amnesty International Urgent Action (UA 34/99), Fear for Safety/alleged ill-treatment in detention/incommunicado detention, EUR 62/02/99, February 25, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Mukhtabar Akhmedova, Tashkent, June 1999.
467 Amnesty International Urgent Action (UA 34/99), Fear for Safety/alleged ill-treatment in detention/incommunicado detention, EUR 62/02/99, February 25, 1999.
468 Interview with Irina Mikulina at a meeting with Robert Seiple, then-United States Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, and Human Rights Watch, Tashkent, May 23, 2000.
469 Amnesty International Annual Report 2000, Uzbekistan chapter [online], http://www.web.amnesty.org/web/ar2000web.nsf/58f967f150817f77802568f500617d07/c08e32af31b6d49e802568f200552981!OpenDocument (retrieved May 1, 2003).
470 Human Rights Watch interview with Muharramkhon Nazarova, Tashkent, February 19, 2000.
471 Verdict issued by Judge T.Z. Ibragimov of the Namangan Province Court, May 20, 1999.
472 The first half of the verdict is dedicated to a history and denunciation of the so-called Wahhabi movement in Uzbekistan. It names Obidkhon Nazarov’s mosques as those that housed “followers of an Islamic religious-political movement of an ultra-reactionary character.” Verdict issued by Judge T.Z. Ibragimov of the Namangan Province Court, May 20, 1999.
473 Ibid. According to the verdict, the Jordan branch of Hizb-ut-Tahrir published the leaflet.
476 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, February 19, 2000.
479 Amnesty International Urgent Action (UA 55/99), Possible prisoners of conscience/ fear for safety/ incommunicado detention, March 24, 1999, EUR 62/07/99. On March 24, a full week after the arrest, Amnesty International reported that police continued to hold Salamov incommunicado, denying him access to his lawyer and relatives.
480 Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge K. Safarov, May 20, 1999; and Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge B. Makhmudov, May 20, 1999.
481 Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge B. Makhmudov, May 20, 1999.
482 The first part of the verdicts for all three men—Salamov, Nazarov, and Nasriddinov—were in fact the same. Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge K. Safarov, May 20, 1999; and Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge B. Makhmudov, May 20, 1999; and Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge T.Z. Ibragimov, May 20, 1999. See discussion of Nasriddinov case above.
483 Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge K. Safarov, May 20, 1999.
484 Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge K. Safarov, May 20, 1999.
485 Namangan Province Court verdict, issued by Judge B. Makhmudov, May 20, 1999.
486 Human Rights Watch interview with Muharramkhon Nazarova, Tashkent, February 19, 2000.
487 Human rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, October 30, 1999.
488 Human Rights Watch interview with Salamov’s lawyer, Irina Mikulina, Tashkent, March 25, 2003.
489 Human Rights Watch, “Crackdown in The Farghona Valley: Arbitrary Arrests and Religious Discrimination,” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 10, No. 4 (D) May 1998.
490 See “‘Hate Rallies’ and Public Denunciations” in Chapter III.
491 Written report to Human Rights Watch, name withheld, March 22, 2001; and letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan from Odina Maksudova, March 26, 2001, received in English. Rakhima Akhmedalieva married Rukhiddin Fakhruddinov in 1993, while he was an imam in Tashkent. Verdict against Rakhima Akhmedalieva and others, issued by Judge F.K. Shodmonov, Tashkent City Court hearing held in the courthouse of the Iunusabad District Court, Tashkent, September 21, 2001.
492 Imam Fakhruddinov had led the S. Darbaza mosque in Tashkent from 1992 until sometime in 1996. He also worked at the popular Tokhtaboi mosque, where Imam Obidkhon Nazarov was spiritual leader, and was fired along with Nazarov in 1996. Court documents report that following Fakhruddinov’s dismissal, police went to his home to question him. Verdict of Rakhima Akhmedalieva and others, issued by Judge F. K. Shodmonov, Tashkent City Court, September 21, 2001. It is believed Imam Fakhruddinov left Uzbekistan in 1998.
493 Maksudova is Akhmedalieva’s daughter from a previous marriage and, therefore, the imam’s step-daughter.
494 Letter to the Mission of the U.N. and OSCE in the Republic of Uzbekistan, embassies of foreign countries in Uzbekistan, and human rights organizations, from Odina Maksudova, March 21, 2001, received in English.
497 Written report to Human Rights Watch, name withheld, March 22, 2001.
498 Letter to the Mission of the U.N. and OSCE in the Republic of Uzbekistan, embassies of foreign countries in Uzbekistan, and human rights organizations, from Odina Maksudova, March 21, 2001, received in English.
499 Written report to Human Rights Watch, name withheld, March 22, 2001; and written report to Human Rights Watch, name withheld, March 24, 2001.
500 Letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan from Odina Maksudova, March 26, 2001, received in English.
502 Ibid. The officer Maksudova identified as Edik is presumed to be Edik Tsoi, an officer who for years has been infamous in Tashkent police headquarters for mistreatment of prisoners and the subject of numerous complaints by victims of torture. According to rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, Tsoi was fired along with a large number of other officers from the MVD department against corruption, racketeering and terrorism in a “purge” of that division in 2002. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Vasila Inoiatova, March 4, 2003.
503 Letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from Odina Maksudova, March 26, 2001, received in English.
506 Letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan from Odina Maksudova, March 29, 2001, provided to Human Rights Watch in English. Additional information regarding this incident is provided in Chapter V.
507 Verdict issued by Judge F.K. Shodmonov, Tashkent City Court, September 21, 2001.
508 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Vasila Inoiatova, February 18, 2003.
509 Juvashev’s case is described in “Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-trial Detention” in Chapter IV.
510 Letter to the Jizzakh regional procurator, from Yadgar Sodykov, August 14, 2000; written statement to Human Rights Watch from rights defender Vasilia Inoiatova, August 9, 2000; and written report of the Jizzakh regional branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, August 29, 2000.
511 Written statement to Human Rights Watch from Vasilia Inoiatova, August 9, 2000; and Human Rights Watch interview with a relative close to the case, name withheld, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.
512 Letter to the Jizzakh regional procurator, from Yadgar Sodykov, August 14, 2000.
513 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative close to the case, name withheld, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.
514 Letter to the Jizzakh regional procurator, from Yadgar Sodykov, August 14, 2000.
515 Human Rights Watch interview with Umarkulov’s wife, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000. Umarkulov’s wife requested not to be identified by name.
516 Human Rights Watch interview with family member “E.E.” (not the person’s true initials), Jizzakh, February 8, 2001.
517 Human Rights Watch interview with Umarkulov’s wife, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.
521 Human Rights Watch interview with Umarkulov’s wife, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000; and letter to Human Rights Watch from Juvashev’s wife, November 1, 2000.
522 Human Rights Watch interview with E.E., Jizzakh, February 8, 2001.
525 Ibid; and Human Rights Watch interview with Sahobiddin Umarkulov’s mother, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.
526 Human Rights Watch interview with E.E., Jizzakh, February 8, 2001.
527 Human Rights Watch interview with Sahobiddin Umarkulov’s mother,Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.
528 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with rights defender Bakhtior Hamroev, January 16, 2001.
529 Human Rights Watch interview with E.E., Jizzakh, February 8, 2001.
530 On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld this ruling in April 2001.
531 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 26, 2001.
533 Ibid. The elder Avazov was originally held in SNB custody, but some of these beatings and interrogations of his younger brother in his presence allegedly took place at the Tashkent police headquarters. Transfer of prisoners back and forth for interrogations is routine in Uzbekistan. Interrogations typically take place at the MVD even when a person is being held in an SNB cell or housed in Tashkent prison during the pre-trial period.
534 U.S. Department of State, Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2001, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, October 26, 2001.
535 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 26, 2001.
536 Tashkent City Court verdict, Judge Mirzarakhimov, May 17, 2001. The trial was held in the Akmal Ikramov District Court building in Tashkent.
537 These co-defendants were Abdulvosit Abdurakhimov, Kudratullo Rakhmatullaev, Rakhmonberdi Khamroev, Abdujabar Abdukadirov, Shukhrat Alimov, Saidgani Islamov, Sherzod Akhmedov, Ziomitdin Shokhobitdinov, Solikhodja Abdullaev, Sadriddin Ashparov, Salokhitdin Ashrapov, and Sherzod Kholmukhamedov.
538 The other ten men were Akilkhodja Turakhodjaev, Khairullo Ubaidullaev, Abdukakhar Khasanov, Danior Kosimov, Khurshid Usmanov, Khamid Shermukhamedov, Abdukarim Komilov, Akmal Iusupov, Odiljon Umarov, and Jamolitdin Khakimov. Lutfullo Abdullaev was given a three-year sentence, but was released from the courtroom on the judge’s determination that a presidential amnesty decree applied to his case.
539 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with local rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, February 18, 2003.
540 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, August 9, 2000. For details on Muzafar Avazov’s death, see “Treatment in Prison” in Chapter IV.
541 Imam Ergashev, charged with anti-state activity along with Imam Nazarov in 1998, is believed to have fled Uzbekistan.
542 Human Rights Watch interview with “Z.Z.” (not the person’s true initials), a person close to the case, Tashkent, March 3, 2000. Court documents give the date of Mirazimov’s detention alternately as February 19 and February 20, 1999. Tashkent City Court verdict issued by Judge G. U. Maksumova, Tashkent, July 20, 1999.
543 Tashkent City Court verdict, issued by Judge G.U. Maksumova, Tashkent, July 20, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with Z.Z., Tashkent, March 3, 2000.
545 Tashkent City Court verdict, issued by Judge G. U. Maksumova, Tashkent, July 20, 1999.
546 Tashkent City Court verdict, issued by Judge G. U. Maksumova, Tashkent, July 20, 1999.
548 The actual date of arrest was February 18, 1999, but official court documents give the date as February 19; this discrepancy may be due to his not having been registered at the police station until the morning hours.
549 Human Rights Watch interview with Z.Z., Tashkent, March 3, 2000; and Human Rights Watch interview with “Y.Y.” (not the person’s true initials), a person close to the case, Tashkent, May 15, 1999.
550 Human Rights Watch interview with Y.Y., Tashkent, May 15, 1999.
551 Human Rights Watch interviews with Z.Z. and Y.Y., Tashkent, March 3, 2000 and May 15, 1999.
553 Human Rights Watch interview with Z.Z., Tashkent, March 3, 2000.
556 Human Rights Watch interview with Y.Y., Tashkent, May 15, 1999.
560 Human Rights Watch interview with Z.Z., Tashkent, March 3, 2000.
561 Tashkent City Court verdict, issued by Judge V.N. Sharipov, Tashkent, May 31, 1999. This quote is given as it appeared in the verdict, which is on file with Human Rights Watch.
562 Tashkent City Court verdict, issued by Judge V.N. Sharipov, Tashkent, May 31, 1999; Supreme Court appeals verdict, issued by R. A. Akbarov, August 9, 1999.
563 Details on the arrest of Usmanov’s widow are in “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in Chapter II. His youngest brother, Muhammadjon Usmanov, was arrested on April 24, 1999, after police officers searched his home and property and claimed to find a 1988 copy of the Islamic magazine Al-Vai, which family members say was planted by police. A Tashkent court tried Muhammadjon Usmanov without a lawyer, charging him with possession of the magazine, and sentenced him to eleven years in prison. Letter from Masuda Kosimova, Muhammadjon’s mother, addressed to the Uzbekistan Parliament, August 11, 1999.
564 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, March 15, 2000, and April 5, 2000.
565 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Ismail Adylov, Tashkent, March 26, 2003.
566 Human Rights Watch interview with “W.W.” (not the person’s true initials), Tashkent, April 23, 2000.
567 Human Rights Watch interview with “V.V.” (not the person’s true initials), Tashkent, May 22, 2000.
568 Human Rights Watch interview with W.W., Tashkent, April 23, 2000.
569 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, April 26, 2001.
571 Verdict issued by Tashkent City Court Judge M. A. Abdujabarov, September 25, 2001. The trial was held in the Chilanzar District Court building.
575 Verdict issued by Tashkent City Court Judge M. A. Abdujabarov, September 25, 2001. The trial was held in the Chilanzar District Court building. The nine other co-defendants were: Khusnutdin Khikhmatov, Khakhramon Sultanov, Talgar Bulegenov, Khairullo Juraev, Abdukodir Rakhimov, Abdurazzok Erinov, Muradullo Shirmukhamedov, Naim Rashidov, and Kanat Duisenbaev.
576 “Uzbekistan: Round-up of Women Linked to Islamic Groups,” Human Rights Watch press release, May 1, 2002.
577 Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, March 15, 2000.
578 The trial of Uigun and Oibek Ruzmetov was held in Tashkent in July 1999, without any due notification of the family that the hearings had begun. The trial had to be postponed at least once because the defendants had no lawyer. Human Rights Watch interview with the presiding judge, Tashkent, July 6, 1999. They were tried with a group of six other men, the majority of whom were also from Khorezm province, and charged with being part of a criminal group that sought to undermine the Uzbek constitution and “create an Islamic state founded on the principles of religious extremism and Islamic fundamentalism.” Verdict of the Tashkent Province Court, July 29, 1999. The state further accused the men of having promoted or advanced the ideas of the “ultra-reactionary, religious-political, extremist movement of Islam: Wahhabism.” Ibid. In court, the state alleged that the men had plotted to explode the dam at Charvok, just outside Tashkent, as an act of terrorism. However, the men were not actually charged with terrorism (article 155 of the criminal code) or with plotting terrorism.
One observer who attended the proceedings recounted for Human Rights Watch the young men’s testimony. According to this source, Uigun Ruzmetov told the judge that he signed a prepared confession because police had threatened to arrest his wife and parents if he did not. Human Rights Watch interview with a journalist who attended the trial, name withheld, Tashkent, July 22, 1999. The same person told Human Rights Watch that one of the Ruzmetov’s co-defendants, Utkur Iusupov, also from Khorezm province, testified that police threatened to rape his wife in front of him if he did not sign the prepared confession and said, “we will do it so that you will have no choice but to sign.” The court accepted the allegedly coerced confessions as evidence and sentenced to death the Ruzmetov brothers and three others on charges including murder and weapons possession, charges springing from the men’s confessions to having committed a series of hitherto unsolved crimes throughout the country, including the murder of border police. The court also found them guilty of membership in an illegal religious organization (criminal code article 216). The remaining defendants were sentenced to twenty years in prison.
The executions are believed to have been carried out in August or September 1999. In October, Sultanova reported she had received an official letter stating that the verdict against her sons had been carried out. Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999. In Uzbekistan, the death penalty is carried out by firing squad. Bodies are not returned to the families.
579 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999.
580 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, June 9, 2000.
581 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2, 1999; and Meeting with Darmon Sultanova, then-U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Robert Sieple, and Human Rights Watch, Tashkent, May 23, 2000.
582 Muhammed ibn Ismail abu Abdolah al-Juti al-Bukhari (810-870) is a famed Uzbek theologian and collector of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammed.
583 Letter to Human Rights Watch from Darmon Sultanova, November 2, 2000.
584 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999.
585 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2, 1999; and Meeting with Darmon Sultanova, then-U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Robert Sieple, and Human Rights Watch, Tashkent, May 23, 2000.
586 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2, 1999.
587 Human Rights Watch interview with a journalist who attended the trial, name withheld, Tashkent, July 22, 1999.
588 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2, 1999; and letter to President Islam Karimov and others, from Darmon Sultanova, November 19, 1999.
589 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2, 1999.
590 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, June 9, 2000.
591 Darmon Sultanova at a meeting with Robert Seiple, then-United States Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, and Human Rights Watch, Tashkent, May 23, 2000.
592 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, November 2,1999.
593 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999.
595 Human Rights Watch interviews with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999 and November 2, 1999.
596 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, October 21, 1999.
597 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, June 9, 2000.
598 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova,Tashkent, November 2, 1999.
599 Human Rights Watch interview with Darmon Sultanova, Tashkent, August 31, 2002.
600 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.
603 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000.
604 Oleg Panfilov, electronic bulletin, Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, May 23, 2000.
606 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000.
607 Verdict issued by Judge R. Duschanov, Khiva District Court, June 11, 1999.
608 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000. The one-and-a-half page verdict does mention the narcotics charge, stating that half a kilogram (approximately one pound) of marijuana was found on a shelf in the house and that while Khojaev denied it was his, he agreed, as head of household, to answer for the charge. The verdict also noted that in their search police had confiscated two typewritten letters with religious content, religious books, and “documents of a religious nature.” Verdict of the Khiva District Court, issued by Judge Ruzimboi Duschanov, June 11, 1999. The verdict also explains the judge’s refusal to apply the April 30, 1999 presidential amnesty to Azim Khojaev with a statement claiming that Khojaev had violated several, unspecified, prison regulations while in pre-trial detention during the investigative period.
609 Death certificate No. 0005094, issued February 1, 2000, on file with Human Rights Watch.
610 Oleg Panfilov, electronic bulletin, Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, May 23, 2000.
611 Human Rights Watch interview with a human rights defender, name withheld, Tashkent, March 2003.
612Ibid. Polvonnazar Khojaev was subsequently arrested by Russian law enforcement agents, in April 2000, extradited to Uzbekistan, and sentenced to death on charges that included religious extremism and terrorism. His youngest brother, Muzafar Khojaev, was arrested on September 18, 1999, in Uzbekistan. When a female relative went looking for him in detention, police told her he was not there, that he had gone “to Tajikistan, to Chechnya.” The officer said Muzafar had shot people and when the relative rejected this accusation, the officer threatened, “You need to be shot too.” Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000. Muzafar Khojaev was sentenced to eleven years in prison and, as of March 2003, was incarcerated in Zangiota prison in Tashkent. Human Rights Watch interview with a human rights defender, name withheld, Tashkent, March 2003. In May 2000 Urgench police were seeking the arrest of Polvonnazar’s brother Hamza Khojaev. According to a source close to the case, police said he was wanted for his religious beliefs and anti-state activities. Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, name withheld, Tashkent, May 9, 2000. In March 2003 Human Rights Watch learned that Hamza Khojaev had been sentenced to death and executed in 2000. Human Rights Watch interview with a human rights defender, name withheld, Tashkent, March 2003.
613 His son was tried and convicted in a high-profile and highly publicized religion-related case.
614 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Andijan, May 19, 2000.
615 Ibid; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with rights defender Muzafarmirzo Isakhov, August 12, 2000.
616 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 1, 2000.
619 Human Rights Watch interviews with the mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, Tashkent, April 5, 2000 and July 19, 2000. Abdurakhimov’s mother asked to be identified only in this way and not named.
620 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, Tashkent, July 19, 2000.
621 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, November, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, Tashkent, July 19, 2000.
622 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, name withheld, Tashkent, November 4, 1999.
623 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, Tashkent, July 19, 2000.
624 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 27, 2001.
627 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 2000.
628 Human Rights Watch interview with the wife of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
630 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 27, 2001.
631 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, February 2001.
633 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, Tashkent, May 9, 2000.
634 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Tavakkaljon Akhmedov, Asaka, Andijan, May 2000.
635 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, November 3, 2000.
636 Uzbek television, January 22, 2001.