Media Advisory – Uzbekistan: Petition campaign to release prisoner of conscience

Amnesty International

Torture in Uzbekistan is pervasive and routine. The government keeps lying about this practice, instead of taking effective steps to prevent it. This must not be allowed to continue.

Amnesty International

Media Advisory

20 October 2014

Across the world Amnesty International supporters have gathered nearly 200,000 signatures for a petition calling on the President of Uzbekistan to immediately and unconditionally release Dilorom Abdukadirova, a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned since 2010 for taking part in a protest for better economic conditions in the country.

Amnesty International is concerned that despite credible allegations that Dilorom Abdukadirova was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, to date no investigation has been carried out into these allegations, and no perpetrators have been identified and brought to justice. She is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence on spurious charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and breaking prison rules.

Tomorrow, on 21 October, Amnesty International supporters in 11 countries will stage photo call actions with the slogan “Stop the Secrets and Lies. Stop Torture in Uzbekistan” in front of the embassies of Uzbekistan in their countries, or other memorable locations, to highlight Dilorom’s case and the pervasive and routine practice of torture in Uzbekistan.

“Torture in Uzbekistan is pervasive and routine. The government keeps lying about this practice, instead of taking effective steps to prevent it. This must not be allowed to continue,” said Maisy Weicherding, Uzbekistan researcher.

“The international community and the European Union in particular must address pervasive and routine torture in Uzbekistan as part of all their bilateral relations.”

Amnesty International continues to receive reports that people are tortured and ill-treated by security forces when they are arrested and by prison guards in detention facilities. The authorities routinely fail to conduct effective investigations into such allegations.

At the same time Uzbekistan remains closed to effective international scrutiny. In recent years no independent international organizations, Amnesty International included, have been granted unimpeded access to the country to carry out fully independent human rights monitoring.

Dilorom originally fled the country in 2005 following protests in Andizhan where security forces opened fire and killed hundreds of mostly unarmed demonstrators. She was arrested in 2010 when she returned to Uzbekistan after five years in exile to be reunited with her family. After an unfair trial she was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and in 2012 her sentence was extended for an additional eight years for allegedly breaking prison rules. Family members reported that Dilorom Abdukadirova appeared emaciated at the trial in April 2010 and had bruises on her face.

Signatures under the petition were collected in 123 countries, while Amnesty International members and supporters will hold photo call actions in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and UK.

Amnesty International is also calling for an investigation into allegations of torture in custody of four other prisoners in Uzbekistan:

Azam Farmonov, a prisoner of conscience and a member of the independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), is serving a nine-year prison sentence. He was arrested in 2006 and charged with extortion following an unfair trial. On several occasions Azam Farmonov’s family reported that he had been tortured and subjected to other ill-treatment in prison.

Erkin Musaev a former Ministry of Defence official, was working for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Uzbekistan when he was detained in January 2006. He was sentenced to a total of 20 years’ imprisonment for treason and abuse of office following three separate unfair trials in 2006 and 2007. His family claim that he was tortured to force him to confess.

Murad Dzhuraev a former member of parliament of Uzbekistan, is detained on politically-motivated charges and received an unfair trial. Before his trial, supporters claimed that Murad Dzhuraev had been tortured in pre-trial detention by police officers to force him to confess. He is being held in cruel, inhuman and degrading condition, and his health is seriously deteriorating.

Muhammad Bekzhanov, the-editor-in-chief of the banned Erk political opposition party newspaper, was sentenced in August 1999 to 15 years in prison, after a trial which fell far short of international standards. During his trial he issued a statement alleging that he had been tortured in pre-trial detention in order to force him to confess to fabricated charges.

Muhammad Bekzhanov was due to have been released in February 2012 but the court sentenced him to another four years and eight months for allegedly violating prison rules. His family have said that his health has declined sharply in the last couple of years and that he is not receiving necessary medical attention.

Actions and output in Belgium and the European Institutions
Tomorrow on 21 October, Amnesty International will deliver a petition to the Uzbek authorities in Belgium calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Dilorom Abdukadirova.
There will also be a photo action with Amnesty International activists sitting on chairs with their hands tied behind their backs and black bags over their heads. This represents one of the most common forms of torture in Uzbekistan.  Activists will also carry banners calling for an end to torture, and photos of the five Uzbek victims of torture.
The petition delivery and photo action will take place with a press point at 11:00 am in front of the Uzbekistan Embassy, Avenue. F. Roosevelt 99, 1050 Brussels.
On Thursday 23 October, Members of the European Parliament will vote on a resolution on human rights in Uzbekistan at the Strasbourg Plenary.

For further information on actions across the world, please contact:
Lydia Aroyo, [email protected], +44 (0) 20 7413 5599, +44 (0) 7771 796 350

For further information on the action in Belgium (in French), please contact:
Valérie Michaux,  [email protected] , +32 (0) 477 89 24 70

For further information on the action in Belgium (in Flemish), please contact:
Lore Van Welden,  [email protected] , +32 (0) 486 75 55 10

For further information on the EU and Uzbekistan, please contact:
Maeve Patterson, [email protected], +32 (0) 483 680 812