Uzbekistan: Red stripe on the case file of the political prisoner Murad Djuraev

The warden of prison 64/1 in Chirchik has repeatedly stated that the prisoner Murad Djuraev is under special control: there is a red stripe on his case file. He was convicted for the fifth time. Seriously ill political prisoner is forced to perform backbreaking labour.

Murad Djuraev was born in 1952 in the town of Mubarak of Kashkadarya region. He is ethnic Turkmen, married and has three children. He graduated from the Tashkent Polytechnic Institute. Between 1989 and 1992 he worked as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City Council of the town of Mubarek. Between 1991-1992 he was a member of Parliament of Uzbekistan.

He was accused of conspiring with the leader of the opposition political party "Erk" Muhammad Salih. According to the authorities, they wanted to organise a violent seizure of power.

Murad Juraev has been in prison since 18 September 1994. He was sentenced to imprisonment for five consecutive times. The first sentence lasted for 9 years, following three terms under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (Disobedience to lawful demands of the administration of penal institutions) in total accounting for 9 years. On 4 December 2012 Murad Juraev was sentenced to three years and 24 days of imprisonment, again, under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan

Murad Djuraev still rejects any suggestions to apply for a pardon to Islam Karimov.
*   *   *
Recently, his wife Holbika Djuraeva was able to get a long meeting with him. She was with him on 25-26 April 2013. Holbika Dzhuraeva saw her husband more exhausted than ever. He has increased nasal catarrh, pomenyay na purulent discharge from the nose, due to lack of teeth he has difficulty of eating, he often suffers from severe stomach ache after eating. According to doctors, his stomach is not well. Djuraev has chronic headaches. For the last two months his right arm is going numb. He told the doctor about it, when he was in Tashkent prison, before transportation to the Prison 64/1, where he is now serving his sentence. Then the doctor examined Murad Djuraev and said that he needs a consultation of narrow specialist, but the day before escorting it cannot be done.
Murad Djuraev works every day, he carries bricks. Physical activity has caused pain in his back, his right arm acts worse, it almost does not move. Against the background of ill health, he is constantly under moral pressure. The warden of Prison 64/1 of Chirchik repeatedly declared Murad Djuraev a “special prisoners, whose case file has got the red stripe. This sort of marking indicates that he is a “malicious violator of the laws of Uzbekistan.Therefore, the rest of the prisoners, especially those who apply for an amnesty or a pardon, are afraid to talk to him.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Catherine Ashton visited Tashkent on 28 November 2012. During a meeting with human rights activists she expressed her interest in the position of Murad Djuraev, Mamadali Mahmoudov, Isroil Holdarov and other political prisoners. Some of them are under threat of extension of their term of imprisonment under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan, some have already been convicted. She promised to follow their fate and do everything she could for their release. Recently, the U.S. government took interest in the fate of political prisoners. First person on the list to be released was Mamadali Mahmoudov. And that gives us a hope for the liberation of the others.


Uzbekistan: body of the diseased convict not given to the relatives

4 April 2013 in the colony UYa 64/51 in the Qashqadarya Province near Kassan, an inmate Khamidulloh Omonov died.  Omonov’s relatives were informed of his death and burial. The prison administration refused to give the body to the relatives.

11 April 2013 Khamidulloh Omonov’s relatives received a telegramme from the colony informing them that he died of acute heart failure and was buried at the Kassan cemetery in Qashqadarya province.

Here is the content of the telegramme:
"city of Karshi 221/446 70 11/04 16:10
Republic of Kyrgyzstan city of Osh Muminov Street House 68 Omonova Muhabbat
            Your husband Omonov Khamidulloh Inatzinovich died on 04.04.2013 of acute heart failure. To your address a telegramme was sent on 04.04.2013, but there was no answer, therefore, in accordance with the established order he was buried at the Kassan cemetery.
            Our address: Qashqadarya province Kassan city, 5th micro-district, penitentiary institution UYa 64/51 telephone: 9998955066451
Head of the institution UYa 64/51 Colonel                                       Z.P. Ravshanov

Copy of the telegramme received by relatives on 11 April 2013

Khamidulloh I. Omonov
Khamidulloh Inatzinovich Omonov was born on 5 April 1963 in the city of Osh, Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, citizen of Kyrgyzstan, ethnic Uzbek, married, with 4 children; before the arrest worked as a car mechanic.

He drew the attention of law enforcement bodies as a member of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” Party. He did not conceal his membership in that organisation. He was buried at the Kassan cemetery in the Qashqadarya province of Uzbekistan.

Omonov was arrested in 1999 in the town of Khodjaabad, Andijan province. An agent provocateur of the Uzbek secret service lured Omonov to come to Uzbekistan under a pretext of a lucrative car repair order where he was arrested. Consequently, Omonov was sentenced to a lengthy prison term under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (encroachment on the constitutional order).

Since 2007 he was sentenced to additional prison terms four times under Article 221 Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (disobedience of lawful demands of the administration of penitentiary institution).
  •  Condition of health
According to multiple references, Khamidulloh Inatzinovich Omonov was a healthy person. He only admitted once that his vision was deteriorating. Omonov never complained about having heart attacks or physical debility. On the eve of his death he called his home in Osh and did not complain about his health, therefore, the official information about the cause of his death gives grounds for grave concern and doubt.

Colony UYA 64/51
Omonov was highly respected in his hometown and among the inmates. He was subjected to torture and cruel treatment many times. It is known from reliable source that he was bullied most frequently by the head of the colony 64/51 Lieutenant Colonel Z. Ravshanov, the one who actually sent the telegramme about his death to his relatives.

  •      Practice of torture
Usually on the eve of meetings with his wife he was placed in a disciplinary cell under various pretexts. Before that they would tie his eyes with a cloth and take him to an isolation cell for especially dangerous criminals guarded by armed personnel. Lieutenant Colonel Z.P. Ravshanov was one of those who would often force him to smoke or to write a clemency letter to Islam Karimov.

When Omonov refused to do that he would be beaten all over his body, insulted verbally and his human dignity degraded. However, Omonov always retained his endurance and never gave up on principles of Islam, which prescribe the Muslim a number of restrictions including a ban on smoking or use of tobacco as such. This irritated the administration personnel very much and generated more and more support among prisoners. Because of that he was often transported under guard to different colonies. For some time he was held in colony “Jaslyk” in Karakalpakstan. That zone became a symbol of state lawlessness. It was a place where mainly prisoners convicted for membership in banned organisations, for criticizing regime or complicity in terrorism are held. According to the observations of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, in effect, these people are prosecuted for their beliefs on a mass scale.  

After another conflict with administration of the colony Khamidulloh Omonov was forcefully transported to “sangorod” – a hospital colony – as if due to a broken leg, where they actually broke his leg and then diagnosed him with a broken leg “injury”.

Khamidulloh Omonov’s wife refuses to give an interview because Uzbek authorities threatened her with reprisals, if she comments the situation for mass media.

  • Attempts of relatives to obtain the body of Khamidulloh Omonov
From 12 to 17 April 2013 Omonov’s relatives were in Kassan in Uzbekistan and tried to obtain his body for burial in his home city Osh in Kyrgyzstan. They were refused. Till present, his grave is being guarded.
Khamidulloh I. Omonov's grave
at the Kassan cemetery

18 April 2013 in Osh a ritual of remembrance for Omonov was held (called “janoza” in Uzbek); about five thousand people came to express condolences to his family and relatives.

·         On the violation of the right to receive the body of the foreign prisoner

The wife of Khamidulloh Omonov refused to give an interview, because Uzbek authorities threatened her with reprisals, if she commented to mass media on the situation.

The case of Khamidulloh Omonov exposed flaws in the Uzbekistan legislation on the discharge of the body of the diseased prisoners who die in penitentiary institutions, especially in part referring to foreign citizens.

Formally, this procedure is regulated by laws “On burial and funeral affairs” adopted by the Legislative Chamber on 18 November 2010 and approved by the Senate on 3 December 2010; “On regulation of custody conditions in administering criminal case” adopted by Legislative Chamber on 27 July 2011 and approved by Senate on 26 August 2011 (Article 16 and 17) and Criminal Penal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Article 170). In Uzbekistan jailed foreign citizens enjoy rights and freedoms and bear liability in the same manner as citizens of Uzbekistan, however, procedures regulating hand-over of the bodies of those diseased in custody are not defined.    

Article 4 (Criminal Penal legislation and international legal acts) of the Criminal Penal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan determines: “Criminal penal legislation takes into account principles and norms of international law related to the execution of punishment and treatment of convicts <...>. If the international treaties of the Republic of Uzbekistan determine other provisions than those determined by the national criminal penal legislation, provisions of international treaties shall be applied”.

International law envisages that in case of a person’s death his body must be given to relatives for burial and they must be notified in time to enable them to perform the necessary rituals of burial.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia calls upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene in Khamidulloh Omonov’s case and to protect the right of the relatives to take his body for burial in his home country.


Uzbekistan: writer Mamadali Makhmudov set free!

19 April 2013 writer Mamadali Makhmudov was set free. At 19:00 he crossed the threshold of his house; his son met him. Today he saw his five grandchildren for the first time.

Mamadali Makhmudov, 1990

Writer Mamadali MAKHMUDOV (creative pen name Evril Turon) born in 1940, citizen of Uzbekistan, former Chairman of the Culture Foundation of Uzbekistan, leader of the “Turkestan” movement founded upon the initiative of the Uzbek intellectuals and active from 1989 through 1993. Laureate of the international Hellman/Hammett Award for writers – victims of persecution for political views and of national award “Cholpan” founded in commemoration of victims of Stalin’s repressions, which he received for his historical novel “Immortal Rocks”. In 2008 French Publishing House LAUBE published that novel in French in Philippe Frison’s translation.
  • Mamadali Makhmudov’s Case
26 February 1999 the writer was arrested. 18 August 1999 Tashkent province court sentenced him to 14  years of imprisonment under Articles 25-159 Part 4 of Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan (encroachment on the constitutional order); 216 (formation of banned public associations and religions organisations); 242 Part 1 (formation of a criminal association). Before his transfer to the Tashkent prison he served his sentence in the strict regime colony UYa 64/6 in Chirchik city, Tashkent province. This is not the first conviction of the writer upon fabricated charges.

In 1994 Mamadali Makhmudov was planted drugs and flyers of “Erk” Party were found on him during search. Keeping flyers does not constitute a violation of the law, but it became one of the pretexts for his criminal prosecution. Consequently, he was held criminally liable upon groundless charges of “embezzlement”. He was then a Chairman of the Culture Foundation of Uzbekistan. Wide public response and international campaign in support of the writer influenced the authorities and he was freed under an amnesty act.

16 February 2013 his prison term under the 1999 sentence ended.

8 April 2013 in the Gazalkent court of the Tashkent province a new court hearing over the writer Mamadali Makhmudov took place. 72-year old writer was sentenced to three years of jail under Article 221 of Criminal Code of Uzbekistan “Disobedience of lawful demands of the administration of the penitentiary institutions”.

At the stage of appeal against the last sentence the writer Makhmudov was discharged from prison. Unexpectedly for everybody on 19 April 2013 at 19:00 he crossed the threshold of his home.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia expresses its deep heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to the release of the writer Mamadali Makhmudov.


Uzbekistan: relatives have been handed the body of a person under investigation with stabbing wounds and traces of beating all over his body

30 March 2013 relatives of Umid Akhmedov (born 1975) were handed his body for urgent burial and took a written signed statement on non-disclosure of information about the injuries on the body of the diseased. They were prohibited to undertake forensic medical examination of the body. The official cause of death relatives are concealing and refusing to communicate with human rights defenders.

15 March 2013 Umid Akhmedov was taken into custody. He used to work in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the department of immoral behaviour and recruitment of people with a purpose of exploitation. Within the competence of the department was the investigation of trafficking cases (the original name of the department is: одамлардан фойдаланиш учун уларни ёллаш хамда одоб-ахлок хукукларини бузилишига карши булим). He was charged under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (receipt of a bribe).

According to a witness, the murdered Umid Akhmedov had a deep cutting wound in the area of his neck and haematomas all over his body; he was disfigured beyond recognition. Under torture they were trying to extract from him evidence against a high ranking official in the government. The name of the latter our source is not disclosing due to security considerations. All attempts to obtain more detailed information on Umid Akhmedov’s case have failed so far, which is not uncommon under the current regime.

According to the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, extrajudicial executions are committed on a regular basis in Uzbekistan, but the public does not have access to the information of that kind. It is impossible to investigate such cases. Relatives of the victims are usually subjected to threats and are afraid of referring to lawyers and human rights defenders, their freedom of movement is restricted, they are kept under total control for a long time.

Uzbekistan: jailed writer Mamadali Makhmudov sentenced to additional three years of prison while suffering infarction

72-year old Mamadali Makhmudov has been sentenced once again to a new prison term, this time for three years. He is currently at the Tashkent city prison awaiting transportation under guard to a colony. Health and life of Mamadali Makhmudov is in grave danger: he had an infarction a few days ago.
 8 April 2013 in the Gazalkent court of the Tashkent province a court hearing over the writer Mamadali Makhmudov took place. The 72-year old was sentenced to three years of jail term under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan “Failure to abide by lawful demands of the administration of the penitentiary institution”.

10 April 2013 a two-hour meeting of Mamadali Makhmudov and his wife and daughter took place. According to his family, he looks very ill, emaciated and depressed.

Writer Mamadali MAKHMUDOV (pen name Evril Turon) was born in 1940, a citizen of Uzbekistan, former chairman of the Culture Foundation of Uzbekistan, leader of the movement “Turkestan” founded upon the initiative of the Uzbek intellectuals, which existed from 1989 to 1993. Laureate of the Hellman – Hammett award given to writers, victims of political persecution and “Cholpan” award instituted in memory of the victims of Stalin’s repressions, which he received for the historical novel “Immortal Rocks”. In 2008 French Publisher "L’AUBE" published this novel in the French translation by Philippe Frizon.

·         Mamadali Makhmudov’s case
On 26 February 1999 the writer was detained. On 18 August 1999 the Tashkent regional court sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment under Article 25-159, Part 4 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (encroachment on constitutional order); Article 216 (organisation of prohibited public associations and religious organisations); Article 242 Part 1 (organisation of criminal associations). Before his transfer to the Tashkent prison he was serving his sentence in the High Security Prison UYa 64/6, in the town of Chirchik, Tashkent Province. This is not the first conviction of the writer upon fabricated charges. 

In 1994 Mamadali Makhmudov was planted drugs and during search in his house leaflets of the party “Erk” were found. Keeping leaflets in itself does not violate the law, however, that became one of the pretexts for criminal prosecution. Afterwards, he was held criminally liable upon fabricated charges of “embezzlement”. He was then the Chairman of the Culture Foundation of Uzbekistan. Wide public response and international campaign in support of the writer influenced the authorities and he was released under an amnesty act.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia refers to Members of Parliament, public and political organisations, mass media and all interested parties to take a stand and demand the release of Mamadali Makhmudov from prison.

In the past we issued:
            - Press Release “Uzbekistan: jailed writer Mamadali Makhmudov indicted with new charges” of 20 March 2013;
- Open Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Laurent Fabius about Mamadali Makhmudov of 27 February 2013;
          - Press Release “Uzbekistan: jailed writer Mamadali Makhmudov is at risk of the new term of imprisonment” of 13 February 2013;
-  Press Release “Uzbekistan: jailed writer Mamadali Makhmudov sustained a head injury” of 26 Novemmber 2012;
          - Press Release “Uzbekistan: A campaign for the release of the writer Mamadali Makhmudov” of 1 December 2008;
- Jailed writer Mamadali Makhmudov’s (Evril Turon) Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov of 4 April 2003.



Speech in pre-sessional meetings on the Universal Periodic Review
of Human Rights in Uzbekistan, Geneva 27 March 2013

Nadejda Atayeva,
  President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia

Dear Sirs,

I am addressing you on my own behalf and at the request of many Uzbek human rights defenders who continue to work to protect the victims of human rights violations in our country under the total harassment by the Uzbek authorities.
I want to tell you about the practice of torture in Uzbekistan, the situation in this area is getting worse.
Yes, Uzbekistan ratified the Convention on the Protection against Torture, Article 235 on the prohibition of torture was introduced into its Criminal Code. The reports sent by the Government of Uzbekistan to the executive committees of the United Nations, repeatedly spoke of the need to eradicate the practice of torture. In reality, the Uzbek authorities only provide training for law enforcement officers, organise conferences on the study of the experiences of other countries, indicating the need of additional funding for its penal institutions. Uzbek authorities claim to have conducted 9 criminal cases against the perpetrators of torture. These data are sent to the UN Committee on Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and other UN bodies. And this figure remained unchanged for the last three years. And, probably, the data takes account of the same 9 cases. Speaking about the practice of torture, human rights activists say that the situation is getting worse. It is difficult to prosecute the perpetrators because authorities do not want to create the conditions for the investigation of torture.
Courts recognise evidence obtained under torture, despite the decision of the Supreme Court in 2004 on the inadmissibility of evidence obtained by illegal means.
Along with these measures, Uzbekistan created intolerable conditions for independent observers. Those who criticise the government and circulate information on torture become the victims of prosecutions and harassment.
In the past five years more than 200 human rights defenders and independent journalists were persecuted, including 16 people who are in prison, more than half of them are serving sentences under the Article 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), all of them have been victims of torture. Hundreds of civil society activists, who openly expressed their opinions, were forced to emigrate; their relatives in Uzbekistan became victims of repression. Their elderly parents are abused by agents of the Interior Ministry and National Security Service, they are forced to give false testimony against their children who received political asylum. As an example, the political refugee Hasan Temirov lives in Sweden. In 2012, seven of his close relatives were detained by the police until the parents agreed to give them his Swedish phone number. In the presence of officer of the National Security Services, his mother was forced to call her son and beg him to return. There are many such cases; they are the cases, the requests for extradition of whom to Uzbekistan were rejected.
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA, in the last four years, received more than 20 letters from prisoners and more than 150 reports of torture during interrogation and detention. They describe the different methods of torture and the conditions in which they are in. The most common methods of torture are sexual violence, AIDS infection through sexual violence using bludgeon, contracting the tuberculosis through being place with infected prisoners, starvation and punishment with thirst, limiting access to toilets (many can not stand this torture; they are then placed in solitary confinement and subjected to public censure), in the prison Zhaslyk the prisoners are forced to memorise the works of Islam Karimov, and so on. The human rights activist write openly about these types of ill-treatment, but the Uzbek government is not taking any notice of these facts and is busy making official reports on the alleged positive changes in the country.
The government does not explain why, for more than 10 years, the 11 UN special reporter on human rights can not visit Uzbekistan. The Human Rights Watch is expelled from Uzbekistan.
There is only one conclusion: there is no progress on protection of human rights in Uzbekistan
And, at the end of my address to you, I would like to reiterate the recommendations of the UN Committee on Human Rights to the Government of Uzbekistan. These recommendations are not acted upon and thus remain relevant. The recommendations read:
1) to ensure the investigation by an independent body in relation to each alleged case of torture;
2) to strengthen measures to combat torture and other forms of ill-treatment, to end them, to monitor, investigate as appropriate and bring the perpetrators to justice, to prevent impunity;
3) to pay compensation to the victims of torture and ill-treatment;
4) to provide an audio-visual recording of interrogations in all police stations and detention centers;
5) on suspicion of an abuse, to provide for special medical and psychological examinations in accordance with the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol)
6) to review all criminal cases based on confessions allegedly obtained through coercive methods and by the use of torture and ill-treatment, to check for appropriate consideration of these allegations in order to prevent impunity.

If you have any further question, am ready to answer them. 

Thank you very much for your attention.