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The Crackdown on Civil Society Following the May 13 Events

The government of Uzbekistan has a long record of retaliation against those who expose government abuses. It has aggressively persecuted human rights defenders, subjecting them to politically motivated detention and arrest, police harassment, surveillance, and torture.96 Independent journalists and others who expressed criticism of government policy have been subjected to reprisals; there are virtually no independent media remaining in Uzbekistan. In addition, shortly after Uzbekistan attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, President Karimov’s government banned the nascent independent political opposition in the country; members of these parties were jailed, beaten, threatened, and some were forced into exile. The main political opposition parties, Erk (Freedom) and Birlik (Unity) remain unregistered and outlawed to this day.97  Few independent or critical voices remain.

As part of the crackdown following the killings in Andijan, Uzbek authorities have engaged in a campaign of repression against human rights defenders, political activists, and independent journalists. In violation of the right to free expression, Uzbek authorities have targeted these individuals for arrest, detention, confiscation of possessions, and harassment.98 In some cases these individuals were the victims of attacks by anonymous assailants, in others they were the targets of government-sponsored “hate rallies” and mob-led attempted evictions. This persecution has been accompanied by a smear campaign in government-sponsored media against journalists and human rights defenders.

The government actions described below seem aimed at silencing and punishing civil society activists and intimidating anyone who might think to engage in civil society work or exercise their rights to freedom of speech and expression to articulate views of which the government does not approve. The campaign appears to serve the purpose not only of concealing information about what happened on May 13 but, more broadly, of stifling independent voices that scrutinize the authorities, expose corruption, and demand accountable government and implementation of human rights norms.

The list of cases documented in this section is not exhaustive. Human Rights Watch is aware of at least a dozen additional incidents in which activists and journalists were targeted and recognizes that some individuals have chosen not to share their stories publicly.

In a worrying development, authorities are now indicating that they perceive human rights defenders and political activists to be a group that poses a particular threat to the government and to society and that should be monitored and controlled. For example, authorities have deemed the outspoken activist Elena Urlaeva to be “a person of special concern” and thus subject to “preventive detentions.”99 According to another prominent activist from Jizzakh:

The authorities speak openly that there will be no human rights activity. They say this to us openly. The head of the regional police said this to me. From the top there is a specific oral order that human rights defenders should not be in contact with international organizations … There is so much pressure now that human rights organizations might disappear altogether. A lot of famous human rights activists are quitting, no one remains. They are leaving [Uzbekistan].100

Journalist Tulkin Karaev, from Karshi, similarly reported that the head of his regional police department told him on June 10 that his department indicated that there would soon be an order from superiors “to sentence all journalists and human rights defenders to prison as religious [extremists].”101

Arrest and Detention of Human Rights Defenders and Political Activists in Andijan

Those particularly hard hit by the government crackdown have been civil society activists who witnessed the events of May 13, who attempted to investigate the killings, and who publicized information about their findings. Many also sent appeals to government officials calling for an investigation into the killings. At least seven activists from Andijan are now in prison awaiting trial; at least two others have been forced to flee Uzbekistan as a result of relentless government pressure.

Arrests and threat of arrest

Saidjahon Zainabitdinov

Uzbek authorities arrested Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, the chairman of the Andijan human rights group Apelliatsia (“Appeal”), as he crossed the border from Kyrgyzstan on May 21.102 Zainabitdinov had published bulletins, based on eyewitness reports by others, about the May 13 demonstration and the massacre and had spoken out about the events. Previously, he had also closely followed the cases of people in the region accused of “religious extremism” for their apparent affiliation with Akramia. Many news reports following the events quoted Zainabitdinov’s description of the events and of the human rights, political, and economic context in Uzbekistan.

Zainabitdinov was initially charged under article 139 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan for slander. He remains in custody and on July 6 was charged additionally with committing “an act of terrorism that leads to grave consequences” and “preparation or distribution of information threatening to public security and the public order.”103 The Uzbek authorities claim that Zainabitdinov’s bulletins “were intended to cause panic among the population” and to undermine Uzbekistan’s public image. According to one official, Zainabitditnov was accused of giving false statements to journalists forty-nine times on May 13.104 As of this writing, Zainabitdinov’s family and lawyer have had no news of his whereabouts for more than six weeks, and have been told only that he is in custody in Tashkent.105

Lutfullo Shamsuddinov

Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, the head of the Andijan branch of the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan, witnessed the massacre on May 13. On May 16 an Interior Ministry official passed a message to Shamsuddinov’s wife saying that her husband’s name was included in a list of people who had given information to the media about the Andijan events and were subject to arrest.106 

On May 23 and 24, while Shamsuddinov was in Tashkent, men in civilian clothing claiming to be from the tax inspectorate searched Shamsuddinov’s apartment and confiscated the hard drives from his computer. An SNB investigator presented Mrs. Shamsuddinov with a search warrant only after the search had been underway for several hours. Mrs. Shamsuddinov saw that the warrant stated that Shamsuddinov had worked closely with Saidjahon Zainabitdinov.107

Out of fear for their safety, on May 26, Lutfullo Shamsuddinov and his family fled to Kazakhstan. On July 4, Kazakh authorities arrested Shamsuddinov in response to an Uzbek extradition request. On July 6, the Uzbek prosecutor’s office charged Shamsuddinov, together with his colleague Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, with committing “an act of terrorism that leads to grave consequences” and “preparation or distribution of information threatening to public security and the public order.” After urgent interventions by the UNHCR and several governments Kazakh officials released Shamsuddinov on July 12. He and his family were subsequently flown to a safe third country for resettlement.108

Seven activists from Ezgulik, Birlik, and the International Society for Human Rights Uzbekistan (ISHR Uzbekistan) 

On May 29, authorities in Andjian arrested Dilmurod Mukhiddinov, chairman of the Markhamat district branch of the human rights organization Ezgulik (“Goodness”);  Musajon Bobojanov, chairman of the Markhamat district branch of the Birlik party; and Mukhammad Otakhonov, of the Uzbek branch of the International Human Rights Society (ISHR Uzbekistan). All three men conducted human rights monitoring in Andijan and had been gathering information about the dead and the missing from the May 13 massacre.

Prior to arresting the men, police searched their homes, seizing human rights materials and copies of a May 15 Birlik party statement about the Andijan events titled, “The Killers of the People Will Answer before History.”109

The Birlik statement regarding the Andijan killings also figured prominently in the arrest of Nurmukhammad Azizov, chairman of the Shahrihan city branch of the opposition party Birlik and chairman of the Andijan province branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), and the arrest of Akbar Oripov, chairman of the Andijan city branch of Birlik. Andijan police arrested both men on May 29 and confiscated copies of the Birlik statement together with human rights publications and computers during searches of the men’s homes on June 2.

On June 7, Andijan police detained Hamdam Suleimanov, a member of the central organizing committee of the opposition party Birlik. Officers searched his home and seized his computer. Police interrogated Suleimanov about distribution of the Birlik statement concerning the Andijan events and then released him on bail. According to the Russian human rights organization, “Memorial,” police formally arrested Suleimanov in Kokand on July 4 after he responded to a summons to appear at the police station.110 

All six men mentioned above are charged with “public offense or slander of the President of Uzbekistan,” “conspiracy with the intention of assuming power or overthrowing the constitutional order of Uzbekistan,” “organization of mass disorder” and “preparation or distribution of information threatening to public security and the public order.” With the exception of Otokhonov, who was released on August 18 with charges still pending against him, all of the men remain in custody in Tashkent prison. The lawyers representing the men have had difficulty accessing their clients and have been allowed to meet with them only in the presence of the prosecutor for the case and other government officials. The lawyers received no reply to their July 12 complaint to the prosecutor’s office regarding the violations of their clients’ right to counsel.111

On May 29 police detained Muzaffarmizo Iskhakov, a longtime human rights defender and head of the Andijan branch of Ezgulik. Prior to his detention Iskhakov had received threatening telephone calls on May 17-19 from an unidentified caller who demanded that Iskhakov retract newspaper articles he had written condemning the massacre in Andijan. When Iskhakov wrote an article that included information about the threats against him, the same person called again and said, “It’s the end for you.”

Iskhakov was detained without a warrant until June 2, when a senior police investigator took Iskhakov to his apartment and conducted an official search.112 Officials searched the entire apartment and then confiscated Iskhakov’s computer, compact disks with electronic files, computer diskettes, copies of Birlik statements and documents related to Ezgulik, including the organization’s statutes, information on conferences, and some of Iskhakov’s news articles. The police told Iskhakov that they were taking the materials as “physical evidence” and provided Iskhakov with an official document regarding confiscation.

Following the search, the officials released Iskhakov and summoned him to appear the following day. When he arrived, they served him with a warrant and placed him under arrest. On June 6, the authorities charged him with “public offense or slander of the President of Uzbekistan,” “conspiracy with the intention of assuming power or overthrowing the constitutional order of Uzbekistan,” “organization of mass disorder” and “preparation or distribution of information threatening to public security and the public order.”

Because Iskhakov’s health began to deteriorate severely while in detention, the authorities released him that evening under the condition that he not leave the city. Police arrested him again on June 23, only to again release him seven hours later for medical reasons.

As a result of these detentions and the imminent threat of arrest on politically-motivated charges, Iskhakov decided to flee Uzbekistan with his family on June 28, and is now in hiding.113

Detentions and harassment

Gulbakhor Turaeva

Human rights groups reported that on May 27 Andijan police detained Gulbakhor Turaeva, a member of the nongovernmental organization Anima-kor, which works to protect the rights of medical doctors and their patients. Police held Turaeva in the local prosecutor’s office for seventeen hours, denying her food and access to a lawyer. A prosecutor’s office official accused her of spreading lies about the Andijan killings and of “anti-constitutional activities.” Turaeva had spoken with journalists regarding the number of bodies she saw immediately following the massacre, and was quoted as saying, “If we speak about [yesterday's] events, I went personally to School No. 15 in Andijan [yesterday] and I saw the bodies were gathered there. I saw it with my own eyes. There were about 500 bodies or more.”114

Isroil Holdorov, Sadirohun Sufiev and Mukhammadjan Mamatkhanov

On June 26, three human rights and political activists—Isroil Holdorov of the Erk Democratic Party, Sadirohun Sufiev, of Ezgulik, and retired human rights activist Mukhammadjan Mamatkhanov—were meeting with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Gafurjan Yuldashev in the Caravan teahouse in Andijan’s Yangibozor bazaar when eight policemen surrounded the men, searched them, and placed them in detention. Police officers searched the men repeatedly and questioned them for four hours in the Andijan city police department. Holdorov reported that the police confiscated his documents and computer diskettes with material related to the trial of the twenty-three Andijan businessmen accused of “religious extremism,” which he had monitored. A senior officer told Sufiev that he had been “blacklisted” for his human rights activities. The officer accused all four men of being responsible for the killings in Andijan, saying, “You caused all the bloodshed in Andijan! Why did you come back again? You want to make more bloodshed in Andijan?” All four men were eventually released.115

International Helsinki Federation delegation

On June 15, police stopped a car carrying three international representatives of the International Helsinki Federation, Eliza Musaeva, Eldar Zeynalov, Dmitri Markushevski and Tolib Yakubov, chair of the HRSU, and forced them to return from Andijan province to Tashkent. The group had been conducting interviews in Shahirhan, in Andijan province, and intended to go to Andijan for additional research when police stopped them.116 

“Isroil I.”

An activist from the Fergana Valley who had formally given up human rights work in 2004, “Isroil I.” (not his real name), secretly traveled to Andijan in June to collect information on the Andijan killings. A few days after Isroil I. forwarded to a colleague outside of Uzbekistan the testimony, which included information about the numbers of people killed in Andijan, Isroil I.’s family began receiving threats. Police threatened Isroil I.’s relatives, some of whom are also human rights activists, with arrest and informed his mother that he should appear in court to face criminal charges. Isroil I., fearing politically-motivated court action, fled his home and remains in hiding. His family continued to receive threats.117

Beating, detention, and harassment of journalists in Andijan

Immediately following the massacre in Andijan, the Uzbek authorities blocked media coverage of the events by threatening local journalists with arrest, confiscating materials and equipment, and shutting off journalists’ mobile phones.118 The authorities also forced almost all foreign and independent journalists to leave Andijan under threat of repercussions, prevented other journalists from entering the city,119 and blocked Internet and foreign television news sources.120 The government also denied or delayed accreditation to several journalists.121 Many journalists who feared further repercussions fled Andijan and some fled Uzbekistan altogether.122 According to Gafurjan Yuldashev, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent in Andijan, no correspondents of foreign news agencies remain in Andijan.123

As the cases below demonstrate, in the weeks and months following the massacre, the authorities continued to monitor closely the actions of journalists and attempted to prevent the free flow of information, including by blocking free entry to the city and interfering with the work of journalists. Very few independent journalists managed to enter the city, and officials harassed and detained those who tried to enter or managed to work in and near Andijan.

Vladislav Chekoian

Uzbek border guards assaulted Vladislav Chekoian of the Russian television channel TVTs while he attempted to film on May 21 a demonstration of about a thousand people on the bridge in Kara-Su on the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan border near Andijan. The border guards also seized Chekoian’s camera and mobile telephone.124

Matluba Azamatova and Victoria Logunova

BBC correspondent Matluba Azamatova and Agence France-Presse correspondent Victoria Logunova departed Fergana city for Andijan on June 9 by bus. On the way, a group of police and SNB officials stopped the bus and detained the correspondents. The police officers refused to identify themselves, questioned the journalists for two hours, then released them under the condition that they would not go to Andijan and would return to Fergana. One day earlier, on June 8, authorities in Namangan, a city near Andijan, prevented the two journalists from conducting interviews with city residents and forced them to leave the city.125 

Gafurjan Yuldashev

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Andijan correspondent Gafurjan Yuldashev reported being detained and harassed several times in the weeks following the massacre in Andijan. On May 17, armed men in bullet-proof vests detained Yuldashev and RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky outside Yuldashev’s apartment and forced the men to lie face down on the ground for half an hour. While Yuldashev was covering the May 21 protests in Kara-Su, near Andijan, eight assailants from the Uzbek security services dragged him into an alley, kicked him, confiscated his diskettes with recordings and a digital photo card, and threatened him, saying, “If you want to live, then get out of Andijan quickly.” On May 27, with the assistance of an acquaintance, Juravoi Abdulaev, Yuldashev visited mass graves in the Bagishmal district of Andijan. In an RFE/RL interview with Yuldashev that aired later that day, Abdulaev described the methods of burial at the site. The following day, unknown attackers stabbed Abdulaev to death, and security service officials warned Yuldashev not to stay in Andijan. On May 29, Yuldashev fled Andijan out of fear for his life. Authorities subsequently questioned Yuldashev’s relatives and neighbors about the journalist.126

When Yuldashev finally returned to Andijan on June 26, police immediately detained him together with three Andijan human rights defenders and political activists whom he was interviewing (see above). After police brought Yuldashev to the Andijan city police station, they searched him four times and took his recording equipment, interrogated him, and accused him of perpetrating the Andijan events. When Yuldashev described the interrogation to Human Rights Watch, he noted, “He was blaming us, journalists and human rights defenders, for everything that happened in Andijan.” Officials released Yuldashev after four hours and he immediately fled Andijan again. Following this incident, Yuldashev also reported being followed by security service officials and receiving requests to visit the Andijan police station again for questioning in conjunction with “calls made by terrorists from his home phone.”127

Crackdown on Civil Society in Other Regions of Uzbekistan

Incidents directly related to expression about Andijan

In violation of its obligations under international law to allow freedom of assembly,the Uzbek authorities targeted for harassment human rights defenders who attempted to hold small demonstrations to protest the Andijan killings.128 They also harassed journalists who had covered the Andijan events.

Suppression of freedom of assembly

In the days and weeks following the Andijan massacre, human rights defenders and political activists organized and participated in demonstrations commemorating the loss of life in Andijan and protesting the government’s actions. Uzbek authorities actively prevented dozens of human rights activists from participating in these events by holding them under house arrest or detaining them prior to demonstrations, and detained and harassed others following demonstrations in retribution for their participation.129

Demonstrations in Tashkent on May 16, 17, and 19 and their aftermath

According to Elena Urlaeva, an activist with the Society for Human Rights and Freedoms of the Citizens of Uzbekistan (SHRFCU) and the Ozod Dekhonlar [Free Peasants] party, on May 16 in separate incidents police detained SHRFCU members Anatolii Varaksin and Yuri Konoplev during a memorial service for the Andijan dead at the Monument to Courage in central Tashkent. Police forced each of the men into a car and drove them to another part of the city.

On May 17, the authorities prevented numerous human rights defenders and political activists from participating in a demonstration outside the United States Embassy. Police placed Yuri Konoplev of SHRFCU and Abdujalil Baimatov of HRSU under house arrest for the day.130 Ten plain clothes policemen broke into the office of Ozod Dekhonlar and detained Elena Urlaeva for several hours.131 Authorities similarly prevented human rights activists from participating in a protest planned to be held outside the Russian Embassy in Tashkent on May 19. Urlaeva listed at least twenty individuals who were subject to house arrest, beating, detention, or threats in relation to this event.132 One human rights activist reported that during a May 20 demonstration near the OSCE office, police in civilian clothing harassed demonstrators and destroyed their signs.133

Tatiana Dovlatova, an activist with SHRFCU, participated in the demonstrations, on May 17, 19, and 20 to protest the Uzbek government’s actions in Andijan. On May 26, a police official came to Dovlatova’s home in Jizzakh at 5:00 a.m. and demanded that she go with him to the prosecutor’s office. She refused to go unless provided with an official summons. The official then placed her under armed house arrest for the day and threatened to send her to a psychiatric hospital if she attempted to leave.

On May 27 Dovlatova was detained and taken to the police station, where officials pressured her to sign a document that implicated her in serious violations under seven articles of the criminal code: “participation as a mercenary,” “inciting national, racial, or religious conflict,” “attempting to undermine the constitutional authority,” “sabotage,” “organizing a criminal society,” “preparation or distribution of materials threatening the public safety and the public order,” and “creating, leading, or participating in religious extremist separatist, fundamentalist, or other illegal groups;” and under four articles of the administrative code: “violating the order for organization and conduct of gatherings, protests, street processions, or demonstrations,” “creating the conditions for conducting illegal gatherings, protests, street processions, and demonstrations,” “violating the legislation of religious organizations,” and “violating the order of teaching religious dogma.”134 They also tried to force her to sign documents stating that she would not participate in further demonstrations, and then finally released her at 2:00 a.m. The next day, officials again tried to force Dovlatova to sign a document admitting to the same criminal and administrative violations, detained her for four hours and told her that she is now “blacklisted.”135

Sobitkhon Ustaboev

The Russian human rights organization “Memorial” reported that on May 18 police arrested Sobitkhon Ustabaev in Namangan after he announced a hunger strike and demanded the resignation of Karimov and an international investigation into the Andijan killings. Ustaboev had a poster and handed out four hundred leaflets.136 The authorities sentenced him to fifteen days of administrative detention and threatened to open a criminal case against him. Ustaboev later fled to Kazakhstan.137

Detention of Activists in Advance of May 25 Demonstrations in Jizzakh

Authorities in Jizzakh detained and harassed five prominent human rights defenders on May 23-25 in advance of demonstrations they had organized for May 25 to express concern about the Andijan killings. On May 23, police detained Mamurjan Azimov, head of the Jizzakh district office of HRSU, and Uktam Pardaev of ISHR Uzbekistan. Prosecutor’s office officials questioned each of the men about the planned demonstrations and demanded that they sign statements declaring that they would cease their human rights work and no longer participate in any demonstrations or else be subject to criminal charges and arrest.138 Police also detained Ziadulla Razakov, the head of the Jizzakh province office of ISHR Uzbekistan, and Mamarjab Nazarov, head of the Zarbdar district office of Ezgulik and a member of the Birlik coordinating council, on May 24. Authorities arrested Bakhtior Khamroev, chairman of the Jizzakh province branch of HRSU, on May 25.139 Several of these activists reported other harassment and ongoing surveillance (see below).

June 21 commemorative gatherings

In accordance with Muslim tradition, people sought to commemorate the fortieth day after the killings in Andijan. In Andijan, the authorities forbade any large commemorative gatherings. According to one human rights activist, “in Andijan, people were afraid to gather to mark the fortieth day. Local government officials had prohibited any gatherings, saying, ‘Don’t go to events commemorating the fortieth day for people who died on May 13. They are participants [in the killings], they are “Akramists.’”140

In Tashkent, human rights defenders, political activists, and others gathered at the Monument to Courage to lay flowers. Some of them held posters showing support for Andijan residents and decrying the Andijan massacre. Human Rights Watch witnessed plain clothes police officers tear up the posters and run away with one of them. Numerous people were detained near the monument or before they could reach it. Human Rights Watch saw Aktam Shakhimardanov and Bakhadir Namazov, both of Ozod Dekhonlar, forced into a car which sped away. Police detained human rights activist Anatolii Volkov on the street before he reached the monument and held him in the police station for several hours.141 Three policemen also detained Tashpulat Yuldashev, an independent political scientist, as he was getting out of his car to attend the event. Police detained him for three hours together with five human rights defenders and political activists and one journalist.142

Bakhadir Namazov described the scene at the monument: “All of a sudden a person in civilian clothes came up to us and started to tear up our signs and ran off…. After a little while, someone else also in civilian clothing tore up a poster and ran off. When we started to leave the monument … about twenty policemen came to us. . . . They spoke with us very rudely and then checked our passports. They took us to the district police station and questioned us.”143 

Shortly after the commemoration ended, police officers also detained Surat Ikramov, chairman of the Initiative Group of Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan, near his home. The officers did not present any identification and took Ikramov to the district police station. Officers questioned Ikramov for six hours before releasing him. They used offensive language and called Ikramov “a terrorist” and “an American spy.”144 On the way to the police station one official also punched him in his stomach. Ikramov told Human Rights Watch that since his June 21 detention, police and security officials maintain regular surveillance of his home and his movements and have issued warnings to him against organizing any demonstrations.145 

June 27 Demonstration near the Uzbekistan State Television and Radio Company

Human rights and political activists planned a demonstration in Tashkent near the Uzbekistan State Television and Radio Company for June 27 to protest its media coverage of the Andijan events. Government officials prevented the demonstration from taking place by holding at least nine potential demonstrators under house arrest and detaining at least seven others. In one instance, police detained two members of Ozod Dekhonlar, Bashorat Eshova and Zulfia Khaidarova, on the evening of June 26 and held them for twenty hours without food or water. The authorities then deported Khaidarova from Tashkent to her residence in Karshi.146

In another case, on the morning of June 27, three police officers broke into the home of human rights defender and political activist Elena Urlaeva. Urlaeva reported that one of the police officers immediately attacked her colleague, Rahmatulla Alibaev, of the Initiative Group of Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan, who was helping Urlaeva make placards for the demonstration. The officer beat Alibaev several times in the head and then took him into custody. Urlaeva was kept under house arrest. Alibaev’s whereabouts remain unknown.147

Arrest, detention, and harassment of journalists

Tulkin Karaev

Tulkin Karaev is a human rights activist and journalist with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) who covered the events in Andijan. On June 4, police in Karshi arrested Karaev and sentenced him to ten days of administrative arrest. The police detained Karaev in a dirty, hot cell with no ventilation and provided him water only twice a day. The authorities consistently denied Karaev’s lawyer access to his client. The pretext for the arrest was provided when an unknown woman accosted Karaev at a bus stop and then claimed that Karaev had threatened her.148

One day after his release, on June 15, police again detained Karaev, held him for several hours of questioning, and then released him without returning his passport. After interventions from foreign governments and human rights and media groups, the authorities returned Karaev’s passport on June 23. However, the authorities pressured Karaev to cease working as a journalist, saying, “If you continue your journalism work we will sentence you to prison for three years.”149 Authorities later sought to bring additional charges against the journalist by attempting to convince another young woman to make groundless accusations against Karaev, in exchange for an apartment or a car. In the face of this unrelenting harassment, Karaev fled Uzbekistan on June 27 and remains in hiding.150 

Monica Whitlock

Uzbek authorities pressured BBC Uzbekistan correspondent Monica Whitlock to depart Uzbekistan on June 9 in retaliation for her coverage of the events in Andijan. Together with a film crew, Whitlock covered the peaceful demonstrations in Andijan prior to May 13. The BBC broadcast that footage repeatedly in the days following the massacre. Whitlock also produced radio broadcasts based on telephone conversations with people present in the central Andijan square that included recordings of massive gunfire and the last prayers of people in the crowd. The weekend following the massacre, Whitlock returned to Andijan for two days and produced two films before the authorities escorted Whitlock and a BBC film crew out of the city. A few weeks later government officials accused Whitlock of breaking Uzbek laws, without specifying which laws or what she had allegedly done to break them, and of non-objective reporting. Fearing for her safety, Whitlock decided to leave Uzbekistan with her family.

Nosir Zokir

Nosir Zokir, a correspondent for Radio Liberty’s Uzbek service (Radio Ozodlik) and a former Birlik party activist, was one of the first journalists to report from Andijan during the crisis on May 13. On June 17, Namangan police detained Zokir for two hours and questioned him about an RFE/RL article that contained a poem criticizing President Karimov. The following week, police interrogated Zokir several times again. Authorities subsequently brought charges against Zokir for allegedly insulting a security services officer and on August 26 sentenced him to six months in prison. A few weeks before his first interrogation, a Namangan newspaper had published a threatening article about Zokir, claiming that he had spread disinformation about the Andijan events.151

Erkin Yakubjanov

On July 18, Uzbek border guards detained Erkin Yakubjanov, a Kyrgyz citizen and a fourth-year journalism student in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, at the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border post at Dustlik. Yakubjanov sought information for a report on Andijan for Dolina Mira (“Valley of the World”), a radio program sponsored by the Danish NGO, International Media Support. The border guards alleged that Yakubjanov asked them for an interview and that he was working without accreditation by the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The guards further tried to justify Yakubjanov’s detention by claiming to have suspected that he works for RFE/RL. The border guards released Yakubjanov on July 29.152

Other incidents illustrating the broader crackdown on civil society

The heightened level of repression following May 13, 2005 has extended beyond those who spoke out about the Andijan events to include human rights defenders with a strong record for exposing corruption and challenging government authority, outspoken journalists, particularly those who work as stringers for foreign news agencies, and political activists. While the cases of harassment documented below do not derive directly from the Andijan events themselves they illustrate the government’s unprecedented crackdown on Uzbekistan’s civil society.

Beatings of human rights defenders, political activists and journalists

Sotvoldi Abdullaev

On May 30 in Tashkent, two men in civilian clothing, one a local police officer, hit Sotvoldi Abdullaev on the back of the head. The assailants had been monitoring the house from a parked car for several days, apparently to prevent Abdullaev, a member of ISHR Uzbekistan, from leaving his house. Abdullaev noticed that surveillance of his home started on May 17, after he participated in a demonstration near the U.S. embassy, and in demonstrations near the Russian embassy and OSCE office. Abdullaev recognized one of the men as the same police officer who had been monitoring his house, and so told the men, “Well, since you’ve come this time, why don’t you come in.” As Abdullaev turned to enter his house, one of the men struck him. 153  

As a result of the attack, Abdullaev suffered a severe concussion and was hospitalized for three days. However, according to the official medical release document, Abdullaev, “accidentally fell to the ground, hit his head, and lost consciousness.” Abdullaev continues to suffer from dizziness, nausea, and vision problems as a result of the beating.154

Ulugbek Khaidarov

On June 24, two unidentified men in uniform attacked Ulgubek Khaidarov, an independent journalist from Jizzakh. Khaidarov was in Karshi, on his way to visit the journalist and human rights activist Tulkin Karaev, when the men hit Khaidarov over the head with a heavy object and then continued to punch and kick him when he fell to the ground. They shouted at him, “Get back to your Jizzakh!” A few days later, Human Rights Watch documented evidence of Khaidarov’s beating: a large lump on his head, severe swelling in his face, one eye swollen shut, and bruises on his body. A doctor confirmed that Khaidarov had suffered a concussion.155

Lobar Kainarova

Two women and one man attacked Lobar Kainarova, a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Tashkent bureau, on July 1 in the entrance to her apartment building as she returned home from reporting on a trial. The assailants forced Kainarova, who was three months pregnant, into a van and drove her around while beating her in the face and abdomen for more than two hours. The assailants confiscated her tape recorder and interview materials. During the previous week, Kainarova had interviewed human rights defenders in Syrdaria and Jizzakh provinces who described the pressure they faced from authorities in conjunction with their work. Kainarova reported that a few days earlier a secret service agent had warned her not to report on the trial or interview human rights activists. The journalist also had received several threatening phone calls, in which an unidentified caller warned her to “not stick [her] nose into politics.”156

Rajabboi Raupov

On July 6, in Shafirkan, in Bukhara province, two unidentified assailants beat freelance journalist Rajabboi Raupov with an iron bar.157  Raupov, who works for a number of media outlets including RFE/RL, suffered severe head wounds from the attack and was in critical condition. Raupov had started a newspaper, Zerkalo Shafirkana, a few months earlier that was shut down for criticizing the mayor and prosecutor of the district.158

Rano Azimova

On July 16 at 6:00 a.m., three unknown assailants beat Abdujalil Azimov, the son of human rights defender Rano Azimova. For a month prior to this incident, unknown persons had knocked on Azimova’s door late at night and issued threats related to her human rights work and her participation in demonstrations. During that month Azimova also had received numerous hostile telephone calls threatening physical retaliation against members of her family.159

Gavkhar Yuldasheva

On August 2, at 11 p.m., two men attacked Gavkhar Yuldasheva, head of the Gallaorol district branch of Ezgulik in Jizzakh province, as she went out to get bread. On August 1, Yuldasheva had participated in a meeting in Jizzakh with British Ambassador David Moran. The older one of them, whom Yuldasheva recognized as having visited her apartment in December 2004 allegedly collecting data for the census, kicked her and pounded her head against the asphalt. She nearly lost consciousness. A few days later she was summoned to the police station, where a senior police official told Yuldasheva, “Remember this: This is a warning, next time we’ll kill you.” Yuldasheva reported that prior to the incident, on July 7, 2005, police had detained her and warned her to stop her human rights work.160 Following the attack, police repeatedly pressured Yuldasheva’s husband to admit to having beaten his wife over a domestic conflict. Authorities succeeded in extracting a forced confession from him on August 26, after threatening him with “serious repercussions.”161 

Mass detention of activists in advance of May 30 demonstrations in Tashkent

Opposition party activists and human rights defenders planned to hold a demonstration at the Ministry of Justice on May 30 to protest the government’s refusal to register the opposition party Birlik. Authorities used arbitrary detentions to prevent many participants from taking part in the protest or even reaching the planned site of the demonstration.Vasila Inoiatova, chair of Ezgulik, reported that police detained many Ezgulik and Birlik activists in advance of the demonstrations and put others under house arrest in Tashkent and in other cities.162 Elena Urlaeva reported that police held her and at least six other human rights activists under house arrest from May 30 to June 4.163   The Initiative Group of Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan also reported the house arrest and detention of several activists, including Surat Ikramov, and sent a letter to the OSCE deploring the detentions and requesting help.164

On May 28, Samarkand police arrested Kholiqnazar Ganiev, head of the Samarkand province office of the human rights organization Ezgulik and the opposition party Birlik. Ganiev had planned to travel to Tashkent for protests on May 30. Police charged Ganiev with “hooliganism” and sentenced him to fifteen days of administrative detention. A group of women, apparently government provocateurs, attacked Ganiev’s house on May 27 and then brought charges against him when he asked them to leave.

On the evening of May 29, unidentified people attempted to start fights with twelve members of Ezgulik from the Fergana Valley who had come to Tashkent to participate in an Ezgulik seminar on May 29 and in the protest at the Ministry of Justice scheduled for May 30. In response to the provocation, Inoiatova moved the Ezgulik members from their hotel to her brother’s home for the night. Soon thereafter, thirty armed special services officers forcibly entered Inoiatova’s brother’s home and detained the twelve human rights defenders, beating several of them. Police also detained Vasila Inoiatova, together with her family, at 2:00 a.m. and held them until noon the next day.165 

Also on May 29, one prominent political activist from a small town, “Jurabek J.” (not his real name), planned to travel to Tashkent with a colleague to participate in the May 30 demonstration. Thirty policemen stopped the two men just as they were getting in a car to drive to Tashkent. Without any explanation, the police held the men until nearly 11:00 the next morning and beat Jurabek J. also reported constant security service surveillance of his home and his movements since May 15. Prostitutes, acting as government provocateurs, repeatedly harassed Jurabek J. near his home. One senior police officer told him, “We don’t want to ever leave you without observation.”  Another police officer, an acquaintance, warned Jurabek J. that dozens of people had given written testimony against him and that the authorities planned to bring charges against him that carry a minimum five-year sentence. Following the threats and harassments, Jurabek J. fled his hometown, and he remains in hiding.166

On July 7, police held Nigora Khidoiatova, head of the Ozod Dekhonlar party, under house arrest for several hours. The police released Khidoiatova only after the intervention of an official from the United States Embassy.167

Detention and harassment of demonstrators near Samarkand

Several hundred people protested at the Bobur collective farm near Samarkand in the days following the June 4 arrest of Norboi Kholjigitov, a member of HRSU and an activist defending farmer’s rights.168 On the nearby roads, police detained people trying to reach the demonstrations, placed them in cars, and drove them away. They also demanded written statements from non-local drivers vowing that they would not enter Samarkand.169 

Two extraordinary cases of detention and harassment

Muidinjon Kurbanov

Muidinjon Kurbanov is head of the Buston (Jizzakh province) office of HRSU and a representative of the Birlik regional board and has for several years endured government harassment and even imprisonment.170 On May 30, Kurbanov arrived at the Ministry of Justice to participate in the planned demonstration. Four men in civilian clothes detained Kurbanov and confiscated his passport and mobile telephone. Officers took him to the district police station where they questioned him for six hours and demanded that he sign a document saying that he had illegally participated in a demonstration. As Kurbanov told Human Rights Watch, “They threatened me, saying, if I don’t leave Buston for good something might happen to my children or my wife.”171 Police eventually released Kurbanov, but detained him again later that same day, while he was in an internet café reading his email.

Kurbanov reported that he was detained yet again on June 1 and then on June 13 and that the authorities kept him under constant surveillance and virtual house arrest throughout June and July. On August 1—following a meeting in Jizzakh with the British ambassador—police again detained Kurbanov, and a senior police official threatened him, telling him to cut his ties with foreigners and to leave Buston within fifteen days. He also threatened Kurbanov’s life, saying, “I can beat you or kill you and nobody will question me. What should I do with you? Tear you up into pieces or beat you to death? You choose!”172 On August 3, one day before a meeting in Jizzakh that Kurbanov had scheduled with United States ambassador Jon Purnell, police detained Kurbanov again. A senior police official accused Kurbanov of harassing his neighbors, and asked him about his planned meetings for August 4. Fearing arrest and mistreatment, Kurbanov fled Jizzakh on August 5 and remains in hiding.173 The authorities are actively looking for him and have questioned his relatives and neighbors about his whereabouts.174

Elena Urlaeva

Government officials have put constant pressure on outspoken human rights defender and political activist, Elena Urlaeva, a member of SHRFCU and Ozod Dekhonlar. Urlaeva describes one of the incidents in a complaint she wrote to the prosecutor general on June 29. On June 28 she demonstrated in front of the Uzbek prosecutor general’s office and later at the Tashkent city hokimiat and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. She held placards and an orange flag and handed out Ozod Dekhonlar party leaflets. According to her statement, at approximately 2:30 p.m., two government officials forced her into a car and began to hit her, punching her in the legs and in the head.

The men drove Urlaeva to the Mirobod district police station where duty officers placed her in a detention cell. At 4:00 p.m. the same day Urlaeva appeared before a judge, who refused her requests for a lawyer or an interpreter to translate the proceedings from Uzbek to Russian. Urlaeva did not have access to the case material filed against her. The judge fined her six times the minimum salary for disseminating information and disobeying the authorities.175

In another incident, on July 13, police broke into Urlaeva’s apartment, threatened her with a gun, and kept her under house arrest until a United States Embassy official arrived on the scene. In response to a complaint sent to the district prosecutor’s office, Urlaeva received a letter stating that “given the situation in the country at that time, [the Department of Internal Affairs] was checking all persons of a special category and the detention was a necessary preventive measure.”176 These incidents followed a pattern of official harassment of Urlaeva since the events in Andijan, including threatening phone calls and many weeks of house arrest.177 On August 27, police detained Elena Urlaeva and charged her with “desecrating state symbols” for allegedly distributing political pamphlets with caricatures of the Uzbek coat of arms. Procuracy officials ordered Urlaeva to be held in a psychiatric hospital, where she will undergo a medical evaluation to determine whether she is fit to stand trial.178 Uzbek authorities have subjected Urlaeva to forced psychiatric detention repeatedly in the past.179

Vilification of human rights defenders, political activists, and journalists through public denunciations and the media

The government has undertaken a campaign to publicly discredit and intimidate human rights defenders and journalists and, in some cases, has launched public denunciations or “hate rallies” against them. The hate rallies occurred chiefly in Jizzakh, which has a recent history of farmer unrest and an active community of human rights defenders who expose corruption in the government-dominated agricultural sector.180 Uzbek authorities have used public denunciation and the mass media to spread false information about human rights defenders and journalists and to humiliate them publicly.181 Much of this invective alleges that these individuals are spies for foreign powers and enemies of the state, and some authorities have even gone so far as to accuse human rights defenders falsely of religious extremism, terrorism, or participation in the Andijan killings.

Public denunciations and hate rallies

Bakhtior Khamroev
On May 26, seventy people, including representatives of the local administration, police, and media, forcibly entered the Jizzakh home of Bakhtior Khamroev, chairman of the Jizzakh province branch of HRSU. The group was one of two organized that day at the local mahalla committee in order to take action against human rights defenders in the area. The crowd conducted a Soviet-style hate rally against Khamroev right in his home and threatened to drag him into the street for a public denunciation. They accused him of being a traitor for passing information to Western organizations, including media and human rights groups, and of being a “Wahabbist” and a “terrorist.”  Khamroev reported receiving blows to the chest, head, and his one remaining kidney. The authorities also pressured Khamroev to leave Jizzakh and made threats against his life and his family. A smaller group of people returned to Khamroev’s house on May 27, when Human Rights Watch representatives were visiting him. They again threatened Khamroev and demanded that he leave Jizzakh. Khamroev’s complaint to the prosecutor’s office regarding the hate rally in his home has gone unanswered.

Since this incident, the police have maintained surveillance of Khamroev and keep him “virtually under house arrest.” Twice, when Khamroev attempted to travel to Tashkent, police stopped him and forcibly returned him to his home.182

Uktam Pardaev

The same group of seventy people who attempted to evict Khamroev on May 26 then proceeded to the home of twenty-five-year-old Uktam Pardaev, a human rights activist with ISHR Uzbekistan. They organized a hate rally against Pardaev, hitting him in the stomach, shouting at him, and calling him a “Wahabbist” and “a terrorist” and threatening to “teach him a lesson.” As they departed they told Pardaev that he should ask for forgiveness and “get on the right track,” meaning stop his human rights work, or they would soon throw him out of Jizzakh. When neighbors asked why the attackers had targeted Pardaev, participants answered, “Because he has connections to terrorists and meets with questionable people every day.”183

Pardaev also told Human Rights Watch that on June 5 an unknown man approached him and told him, “We have an order from above: if human rights activists will continue their activities, then we will eliminate all of you.” That same day police came to Pardaev’s house and asked Pardaev’s neighbors about him. Police told neighbors that Pardaev is “an enemy of the people, traitor and a terrorist” and forced them to write complaints against him. In addition to these incidents, Pardaev has received many threatening telephone calls and letters.184 

Mamarjab Nazarov

Also on May 26, a second group of approximately seventy people, including local government officials, went to the apartment of Mamurjan Azimov of HRSU apparently to conduct a similar hate rally. 185 When they did not find Azimov at home, the group traveled in three buses and five or six cars to the home of Mamarjab Nazarov in Buston, a village outside of Jizzakh, where they were joined by approximately forty local officials and other participants.186 Nazarov is the head of the Zarbdar district office of Ezgulik and a member of the coordinating council of Birlik. Earlier in the day, police had prevented Nazarov from leaving his apartment and had disconnected his telephone. Nazarov convinced the leader of the group to take him to a local government building rather than conduct the denunciation in his home. Once in the government building, some of the participants accused Nazarov of planning to organize a crisis like Andijan in their town and of distributing false information about Andijan, and then took a decision to kick Nazarov and his family out of Buston.187

On the basis of this decision, on the night of May 31, the owner of Nazarov’s apartment evicted Nazarov and his family and drove them to Samarkand province, 150 kilometers away from Samarkand. Officials from the village where Nazarov and his family decided to stay immediately visited Nazarov and ordered him to appear at the local police station on June 2. During the meeting, a senior official told Nazarov that the authorities in Jizzakh had told him, “A ‘Wahabbist’” [Nazarov] is moving to your region; this is a dangerous person.” The official also instructed Nazarov not to organize any demonstrations or publish any information on the internet. Following a meeting with British Ambassador David Moran on August 1, Samarkand officials held Nazarov under house arrest forcing him to spend twenty days incommunicado.188

June 2 rally in Jizzakh

On June 2, local government officials organized a rally in Jizzakh in support of president Karimov under the slogan “The Uzbek people will never be dependent on anyone!”189  Placards held at the rally stated, “Away with traitors!” “Rally around the President!” and “Human rights activists, get out of Uzbekistan!”190An official at the rally reportedly identified all local human rights activists as traitors and enemies of the people, who are servants of the Americans and the British and receive foreign money. The official specifically named Bakhtior Khamroev, Uktam Pardaev, Mamurjan Azimov, Mamarjab Nazarov, and Jamshid Mukharov. The officials hosting the meeting claimed that twenty-two thousand people were participating in the meeting but human rights activists reported that there were not more than three thousand and five hundred participants.191 

Karshi public denunciation

The pro-government organization “Center for Support of the President’s Ideas” organized a rally at the Karshi stadium on June 7 in support of President Karimov and the government. During the rally, in which local government officials participated, the head of the organization accused Tulkin Karaev, a journalist with IWPR, Khamrokul Karimev, a journalist with Radio Ozodlik, and Yadgar Turlibekov, the head of the Karshi section of HRSU of being enemies of the people and traitors. According to witnesses and those who saw the rally on television, approximately 10-15,000 people attended the rally, most of them young people.192

Namangan public denunciation

According to Ezgulik, on July 5 in the Pop district of Namangan province, government representatives met with representatives of the local population. Although the meeting had been organized to discuss agricultural production, an official stated that the events in Andijan and the shooting of citizens had been organized by Western organizations together with Uzbek human rights defenders, many of whom had fled abroad. Ezgulik also reported that two Namangan officials approached the head of the Pop district office of Ezgulik, Arabboi Kadyrov, near the courthouse and said that an order had been given to imprison human rights defenders.193

In the media

Common targets in the media smear campaign are human rights defenders and Uzbek journalists who work for foreign media outlets such as the BBC, Radio Ozodlik and IWPR. Common themes in the government propaganda are that these individuals are on the payroll of foreign masters to spread false or grossly exaggerated information about May 13 in order to discredit the government. Some stories went further, accusing human rights defenders and journalists of being spies, abettors of terrorism, or ringleaders in the May 13 violence. The consistency of the tone, targets, and outrageous allegations in the stories, viewed in the context of the utter lack of media freedoms in Uzbekistan, leaves little doubt about the government’s involvement in the smear campaign. These derogatory media pieces are part of the government’s broader efforts, described above, to use its unchallenged control over the media to ensure that only its version of the Andijan events reaches the public.

The national newspaper Pravda Vostoka (“Eastern Truth”) maintains a strongly pro-government line and has published numerous articles aimed at discrediting human rights activists and journalists. On May 25 the newspaper published an article titled, “In Defense of the Sovereignty of the Uzbek People,” that attacks correspondents of the news service, IWPR, BBC Radio, and Radio Ozodlik. The article accused IWPR journalists of being provocateurs and of organizing an information campaign against the government. The article also attacked Alexsey Volosevich, a correspondent for and the only journalist to remain in Andijan to report on the situation there after May 13, calling him “a professional provocateur.”194

Ozod Ovoz, a media freedoms website, reported that on May 25, pro-presidential Tashkent newspaper Mahalla accused Radio Ozodlik of spreading false information about the Andijan events and criticized each Radio Ozodlik journalist individually. The author called the journalists illiterate, cowardly, soulless, and said they were intent on doing evil.195 Mahalla attacked Radio Ozodlik in a July 27 article as well, accusing the station’s journalists of being incompetent and slanderous.196

An article titled “‘Free’ Fabrication-Their Credo” appeared in the Tashkent newspaper Zerkalo XXI [“Mirror XXI”] on June 9. It criticized Radio Ozdolik’s coverage of the Andijan events and denounced by name numerous RFE/RL journalists in Prague and Uzbekistan. It attempted to discredit RFE/RL Uzbek Service Director Adolat Najimova and accused one journalist of having been trained in terrorist acts.197

On June 1, the Tashkent newspaper Khurriat published an article criticizing several journalists from the IWPR, including Tulkin Karaev. The article claims that the IWPR journalists had been spreading false information about the Andijan killings in order to be sensationalist and to receive money.198

Mahalla published an article on June 8, titled, “Dead Souls of IWPR Beg for Life,” that accuses Ozod Ovoz of spreading false information about the killings in Andijan based on reports provided by IWPR journalist Galima Bukharbaev a and claimed that IWPR is an illegal organization. The same day, the newspaper Turkiston also criticized Bukharbaeva as well as Nosir Zokir of Radio Ozodlik and his son.199

A June 16 article in Pravda Vostoka accused Muidinjon Kurbanov of participation in Akramia and of direct involvement in the Andijan killings of May 13. The author also implicated Vasila Inoiatova in the killings because of her contact with Kurbanov by telephone. In addition, the author claims that the “support of so-called political opposition, namely Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, played a final role in activating the activities of the Akramists [on May 13 in Andijan].”200

HRSU reported that on June 23 Uzbek central television showed a program criticizing Norboi Kholjigitov of HRSU and the Ozod Dekhonlar party.201 The program showed “representatives of the public” calling human rights defenders “enemies of the people.”202

On July 7, Pravda Vostoka accused Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, head of the Andijan Branch of the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan, of providing “information about the events in Andijan and for distribution of false information from the site of the incident” to unidentified “customers.”203

According to Ozod Ovoz, in an article titled, “If You Spit into the Sky,” the editor-in-chief of Mahalla, Chori Latipov, accused BBC correspondent Matluba Azamatova of spreading false information about Andijan after she visited the homes and graves of “terrorists,” and likened her to a prostitute. The editor also repeated several times that Azamatova “works under orders and receives large amounts of money for fulfilling those orders.” Latipov issued Azamatova a veiled threat, “If you spit into the sky [at Karimov and the government], spit will fall right back down on your head.”204 Latipov similarly struck out at Radio Ozodlik and Ozod Ovoz in a July 27 article titled, “An Empty Mind’s Pretensions to Wisdom.”205

[96] Human Rights Watch, “Leaving No Witnesses: Uzbekistan’s Campaign Against Human Rights Defenders,” A Human Rights Watch Report. Vol. 12, No. 4 (D), March 2000; and Human Rights Watch, World Report 2005: Events of 2004, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005); and U.S. Department of State, 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005 [online], (retrieved August 9, 2005).

[97] U.S. Department of State, 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005 [online], (retrieved August 9, 2005).

[98] Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. Uzbekistan acceded to the covenant on September 28, 1995.

[99] Freedom House Uzbek Human Rights Defender Support Program Press Release, July 15, 2005

[100] Human Rights Watch interview with Mudinjon Kurbanov, Tashkent, August 15, 2005.

[101] Human Rights Watch interview with Tulkin Karaev, Karshi, June 24, 2005.

[102] See Human Rights Watch Press Release, “Uzbekistan: Rights Defender in Andijan Arrested,” May 24, 2005, [online]

[103] Article 155, part 3, clauses a and b and Article 244-1 part 3, clause b of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan. “Uzbekistan Raps UN Body for Demanding Not to Repatriate Suspect,” Interfax, July 6, 2005, in Russian, English translation in BBC Monitoring, July 6, 2005.

[104] As stated in a search warrant presented to the wife of Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, a human rights activist and colleague of Zainabitditnov, on May 25 by an Uzbek SNB agent. Human Rights Watch interview with Lutfullo Shamsuddinov (see below), Tashkent, May 25, 2005.

[105] Human Rights Watch communication with relative of Zainabitdinov, name withheld, place withheld, August 26, 2005.

[106] Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, August 9, 2005.

[107] Human Rights Watch interview with Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, Tashkent, May 25, 2005.

[108] See Human Rights Watch press release, “Central Asia: Follow Kazakh Example,” July 14, 2005 [online]

[109] The statement accuses the Uzbek government of targeting Birlik for persecution and refusing to register the party. It charges the government authorities with failing to maintain order in Andijan, resorting to force in order to resolve the Andijan crisis, and shooting hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The statement also accuses President Karimov, who went to Andijan during the crisis, of being personally responsible for the killing of civilians in Andijan. “Those Who Shoot the People Will Answer before History,” Birlik Party Statement regarding the Andijan Events, May 15, 2005, [online] (retrieved September 6, 2005).

[110] Memorial Human Rights Center, “Uzbekistan: Member of the Opposition Party ‘Birlik’ Charged with Anti-Constitutional Activity,” Memorial Human Rights Center Press Release, July 6, 2005.

[111] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with one of the representatives of the seven accused men, August 31, 2005.

[112] The senior investigator was from the Markhamat District Department of Internal Affairs.

[113] Human Rights Watch interview with Muzaffarmizo Iskhakov, location withheld, July 14, 2005.

[114] Elena Urlaeva and Akhtam Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders and Opposition Members of Uzbekistan in the period May 13-July 18, 2005,” Tashkent, July 19, 2005, p. 3. For Turaeva’s statements regarding Andijan, see “Uneasy Calm in Uzbekistan after Two Days of Violence,” RFE/RL, May 15, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 8, 2005).

[115] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gafurjan Yuldashev, August 31, 2005; and Gulnoza Saidazimova, “Uzbekistan: Detentions Highlight Ongoing Crackdown in Andijan,” RFE/RL, June 27, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 26, 2005).

[116] “Uzbekistan: International Human Rights Group Detained,” Human Rights Watch Press Release, June 16, 2005.

[117] Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case, identity withheld, location withheld, August 18, 2005.

[118] Valentinas Mite, “Uzbekistan: Authorities Try to Control Reporting on Crisis,” RFE/RL, May 17, 2005, [online]

[119] See Human Rights Watch, “‘Bullets Were Falling Like Rain’: The Andijan Massacre May 13, 2005,” pp.45-48; and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti, “Coverage of the Events and Governmental Handling of the Press During the Andijan Crisis in Uzbekistan: Observations and Recommendations,” June 15, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 25, 2005).

[120] The block on broadcasting included CNN, BBC, and Deutsche Welle as well as Russian television channels. OSCE, “Coverage of the Events and Governmental Handling of the Press during the Andijan Crisis in Uzbekistan: Observations and Recommendations,” pp. 2-3.

[121] Ibid, pp.5-6.

[122] See, for example, the cases of Andijan journalist Rizokhoja Obidov, as described in Gulnoza Saidazimova, “Central Asia: Kazakhstan Becomes New Destination for Uzbek Refugees,” RFE/RL August 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 4, 2005).

[123] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gafurjan Yuldashev, August 24, 2005.

[124] Reporters sans Frontiers, “Russian Journalist Beaten up as Government Resorts to Disinformation, Reporters sans Frontiers”, May 26, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 26, 2005).

[125] Adil Soz International Foundation for Protection of Free Speech, “Monitoring Violations of Freedom of Speech, Uzbekistan, June 2005,” July 18, 2005, via email.

[126] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gafurjan Yuldashev, August 24, 2005. See also “Uzbekistan: Focus on Andijan Following May Unrest,” IRIN News, June 8, 2005, [online] (retrieved on June 8, 2005).

[127] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Gafurjan Yuldashev, August 24 and August 31, 2005. See also Saidazimova, “Uzbekistan: Detentions Highlight Ongoing Crackdown in Andijan.”

[128] Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order publique), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966.

[129] The International Helsinki Federation also recorded some forty incidents of house arrest in May and June, some of which were related to planned or past demonstrations. It was not possible to determine whether all of these cases were directly related to demonstrations or to other human rights activity. International Helsinki Federation, “One Can’t Keep Silent:’ the Persecution of Human Rights Defenders in Uzbekistan in the Aftermath of Andijan,” July 15, 2005, pp. 5-6.

[130] See Elena Urlaeva and Akhtam Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders and Opposition Members of Uzbekistan in the period May 13-July 18, 2005,” Tashkent, July 19, 2005, pp. 1-3.”

[131] Human Rights Watch interview with Elena Urlaeva, Tashkent, May 17, 2005.

[132] Urlaeva and Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders…,” pp. 1-3. See also the testimony of Akzam Turgunov regarding his detention and mistreatment, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Uzbek, June 13, 2005, English translation in BBC Monitoring, June 14, 2005.

[133] Human Rights Watch interview with Tatiana Dovlatova, Jizzakh, June 20, 2005.

[134] Articles 154, 156, 159, 161, 242, 244-1, 244-2 of the criminal code and articles 210, 202, 240 and 241 of the administrative code.

[135] Human Rights Watch interview with Tatiana Dovlatova, Jizzakh, June 20, 2005.

[136] “Uzbekistan: New Data Regarding Surveillance of Opposition Activists and Human Rights Defenders,” Human Rights Center Memorial Press Release, May 31, 2005.

[137] Gulnoza Saidazimova, “Central Asia: Kazakhstan Becomes New Destination for Uzbek Asylum Seekers,” RFE/RL August 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 4, 2005).

[138] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, May 24, 2005; and Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, Tashkent, August 17, 2005.

[139] Human Rights Watch interview with Mamarjab Nazarov, Tashkent, August 18, 2005; and Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, August 17, 2005. See also Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Press Release May 31, 2005.

[140] Human Rights Watch interview with Andijan human rights activist, identity withheld, location withheld, July 14, 2005.

[141] Human Rights Watch monitoring of commemoration of the fortieth day following the Andijan massacre, June 21, 2005.

[142] Human Rights Watch interview with Tashpulat Yuldashev, Tashkent, June 21, 2005.

[143] Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhadir Namazov, Tashkent, June 22, 2005.

[144] Human Rights Watch interview with Surat Ikramov, Tashkent, June 21, 2005.

[145] Human Rights Watch interview with Surat Ikramov, Tashkent, August 16, 2005.

[146] Urlaeva and Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders….,” p. 6.

[147] Elena Urlaeva, “Statement Addressed to Uzbek Prosecutor General Rashid Kodirov,” news agency in Russian, July 1, 2005, English translation of excerpts in BBC Monitoring, July 4, 2005.

[148] Human Rights Watch interview with Tulkin Karaev, Karshi, June 24, 2005.

[149] Ibid.

[150] Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Tulkin Karaev, July 17, 2005.

[151] Human Rights Watch correspondence with Sojida Djakhfarova, RFE/RL Uzbek Service acting director, August 25, 2005 and August 29, 2005.

[152] Committee to Protect Journalists, “Uzbek Leader Urged to End Harassment of Independent Press, August 1, 2005, Committee to Protect Journalists letter, August 1, 2005, [online] CPJ? (retrieved August 8, 2005).

[153] Human Rights Watch interviews with Sotvoldi Abdullaev, Tashkent, May 30 and June 19, 2005.

[154] Ibid.

[155] Human Rights Watch interview with Ulugbek Khaidarov, Tashkent, June 29, 2005.

[156] “RFE/RL Deplores Attack Against Reporter, Calls For End to Harassment in Uzbekistan,” RFE/RL, July 5, 2005, [online]

[157] Julie Corwin, “Uzbekistan: Is Russia Helping Uzbekistan Clean up after Andijan?” RFE/RL, July 15, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 13, 2005).

[158] “Famous Journalist of Bukhara Province is Beaten,” Arena Committee for Free Speech and Free Expression, July 13, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 13, 2005).

[159] Urlaeva and Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders,” p. 8.

[160] Human Rights Watch interview with Gavkhar Yuldasheva, Tashkent, August 21, 2005.

[161] Ibid.

[162] “Uzbekistan: New Data Regarding Surveillance of Opposition Activists and Human Rights Defenders,” Human Rights Center Memorial Press Release, May 31, 2005. In one instance, on May 29, police broke into the apartment of Dainav Tashanov, head of the Karshi province office of Birlik. Police beat Tashanov and detained him together with Zulfikor Mirzakulov, head of the local office of Ezgulik, who was visiting Tashanov. Police detained the men until midnight and then drove them towards the village Chinkurgan, 100 kilometers from Karshi, and dropped them at the side of the road. See “Kashkadarja Regional Authorities Apply More and More Pressure to the Human Rights Community and Opposition,” news agency, May 30, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 22, 2005).

[163] Police also confined Abdujalil Boimatov of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan to house arrest for two weeks, from May 22 to June 5. Urlaeva and Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders,” pp. 4-5. See also Gulnoza Saidazimova, “Uzbekistan: Crackdown on Journalists, Activists Intensifies,” RFE/RL June 6, 2005.

[164] “Uzbek Human Rights Activists Request Aid,” Prima News, May 31, 2005.

[165] “Illegal Mass Detention and Beating of Ezgulik Representatives,” Ezgulik Human Rights Organization Press Release, May 30, 2005; and “Uzbekistan: New Data Regarding Surveillance of Opposition Activists and Human Rights Defenders,” Human Rights Center Memorial Press Release, May 31, 2005.

[166] Human Rights Watch interview with “Jurabek J.” (not his real name), July 2, 2005.

[167] Elena Urlaeva and Akhtam Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders and Opposition Members of Uzbekistan in the period May 13-July 18, 2005,” Tashkent, July 19, 2005, p.7.

[168] Kholjigitov was charged with extortion. For a description of the case see below, footnote 201.

[169] Human Rights Watch interview with Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Chairperson Talib Yakubov, Tashkent, June 20, 2005.

[170] On February 16, 2004 authorities arrested Kurbanov, forced him to sign a dictated confession, and sentenced him on fabricated charges of weapons possession in an unfair trial that focused on his human rights work. See Human Rights Watch, World Report 2005 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005) p. 449.

[171] Human Rights Watch interview with Muidinjon Kurbanov, Tashkent, June 15, 2005.

[172] Human Rights Watch interviews with Muidinjon Kurbanov, Tashkent, August 2, 8 and 15, 2005

[173] Human Rights Watch interviews with Muidinjon Kurbanov, Tashkent, August 5 and 8, 2005.

[174] Human Rights Watch interview with Muidinjon Kurbanov, Tashkent, August 15, 2005.

[175] Elena Urlaeva, “Statement Addressed to Uzbek Prosecutor General Rashid Kodirov,” June 29, 2005, in Russian, English translation of excerpts in BBC Monitoring, July 4, 2005.

[176] Freedom House Uzbek Human Rights Defender Support Program Press Release, July 15, 2005.

[177] See Elena Urlaeva, “Statement Addressed to Uzbek Prosecutor General Rashid Kodirov;” and Urlaeva and Shaimardanov, “Report on the Situation for Human Rights Defenders.”

[178] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a human rights defender close to the case, identity withheld, August 31, 2005; and Aleksei Volosevich, “Elena Urlaeva is threatened with psych hospital or three years corrective labor,” news agency, August 31, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 31, 2005).

[179] Elena Urlaeva was forcibly detained in a psychiatric institution first in April 2001 for two months and again in June 2002 for six months.

[180] The pressure on human rights defenders in Jizzakh appears to have been effective. Bakhtior Khamroev, a human rights activist in Jizzakh, reported a precipitous decline in membership of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan since the government campaign began. “I don’t blame those people who leave in order to save their lives, but the longer time goes on, the fewer people remain. One year ago, in Jizzakh oblast there were 127 members of HRSU, now only twenty-eight remain. In Dostui region [of Jizzakh oblast], there were thirty-eight, and only five remain,” he said. Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, Tashkent, August 17, 2005.

[181] Some of these strongly resembled government-organized “hate rallies” held at the height of the government’s campaign against suspected Islamic “fundamentalists” in 1999 and 2000. See Human Rights Watch, Creating Enemies of the State: Religious Persecution in Uzbekistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2004).

[182] Human Rights Watch interviews with Bakhtior Khamroev, Jizzakh, May 26 and 27, 2005, June 7 and 25, 2005 and in Tashkent, August 27, 2005.

[183] Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Press Release, May 31, 2005.

[184] Human Rights Watch interview with Uktam Pardaev, Jizzakh, June 25, 2005.

[185] Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, Tashkent, August 17, 2005.

[186] Human Rights Watch interview with Mamarjab Nazarov, Tahskent, August 18, 2005; and Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, Tashkent, August 17, 2005.

[187] Human Rights Watch interview with Mamarjab Nazarov, Tahskent, August 18, 2005.

[188] Ibid.

[189] Uzbek Television and Radio Company broadcast, “Demonstration in Jizzakh, ‘The Uzbek people will never be dependent on anyone,’” June 2, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 24, 2005).

[190] Andrei Nazarov, Sasha Sukhanov, “Demonstration of ‘people’s wrath’ under the slogan ‘Call to Account Traitors!’ took place in Dzhizak,” June 3, 2005, World Press Service: Central Asia News.

[191] Human Rights Watch interview with Bakhtior Khamroev, Tashkent, August, 17, 2005.

[192] Human Rights Watch interview with Tulkin Karaev, Karshi, June 24, 2005.

[193] Ezgulik Press Release no. 97, July 17, 2005.

[194] “In Defense of the National Sovereignty of the Uzbek People,” Pravda Vostoka, May 25, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 11, 2005). Reporters without Borders stated that the weekly newspaper Mokyiyat also attacked Alexsey Volosevich calling him a hooligan. Reporters without Borders Press Release, “Authorities Foment a Denigration Campaign against Independent Journalists,” June 14, 2005.

[195] Mukhabat Turon, “Uzbek Press Attacks IWPR, BBC, and Ozodlik,” Ozod Ovoz, June 27, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

[196] Mahalla, Tashkent, in Uzbek, July 27, 2005, English translation of excerpt in BBC monitoring August 4, 2005.

[197] “‘Free’ Fabrication-Their Credo,” June 9, 2005, as reproduced on Arena News, June 10, 2005 [online] (retrieved August 25, 2005). The article originally appeared in the May 26 edition of Mahalla under the title, “So Many Lies…”

[198] Adil Soz International Foundation for Protection of Free Speech, “Monitoring Violations of Freedom of Speech, Uzbekistan, June 2005,” July 18, 2005, via email.

[199] Mukhabbat Turon, “Karimov’s Anti-Western Press has Even Reached Ozod Ovoz,” Ozod Ovoz, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

[200] Sergei Ezhevichkin, “Andijan: People’s Revolt or A Carefully Planned Armed Action?” [in Russian] Pravda Vostoka, June 16, 2005 [online] (retrieved August 10, 2005).

[201] On June 4 Uzbek security agents arrested Norboi Kholjigitov, a member of HRSU and Ozod Dekhkonlar together with two other HRSU activists, Abdusattor Irzaev and Khabbulla Akpulatov, in the village of Mikam near Samarkand. Kholjigitov is a long time advocate for land reform and worked to work to defend farmers’ rights. He is being charged with extortion after a political rival allegedly attempted to give him a bag of marked money. Kholijigitov’s lawyer, Asledin Suvankulov, reported that officials told his client that he had been put in prison because “the regional authorities have had enough of you.” Suvankulov was beaten and threatened for his work on Kholjigitov’s case. Human Rights Watch interview with HRSU Chairman Talib Yakubov, Tashkent, June 20, 2005; Human Rights Watch interview with Aslidin Suvankulov, Chilik, June 23, 2005; and Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan press release, “N. Kholjigitov is subjected to torture,” July 24, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 25, 2005).

[202] “HRSU: Human Rights Defenders under Pressure from Uzbek TV and Mass Media,” Ozod Ovoz, June 27, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

[203] Abu-Ali Niyazmatov, “Attempt to Cover Tracks,” Pravda Vostoka, July 7, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 10, 2005).

[204] Nafisa Nazar, “The Newspaper Makhalla Likens BBC Journalist to a Prostitute” Ozod Ovoz, July 7, 2005 [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

[205] Mukhabbat Turon, “Karimov’s Press Attacks Ozodlik Again,” Ozod Ovoz, July 28, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 28, 2005); and Reporters Without Borders, “Authorities Foment a Denigration Campaign against Independent Journalists,” Reporters Without Borders Press Release, June 14, 2005.

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