Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uzbekistan: Open letter to President Karimov

Uzbekistan: Open letter to President Karimov
Published: November 13, 2008

Related earlier post on this news :
Islam Abduganievich KarimovPresident of the Republic of UzbekistanRezidentsiya prezidentaUl. Uzbekistaniskaia 43Tashkent Uzbekistan
Fax: 00 998 71 139 5325E-mail:
13 November 2008 Your Excellency, We at the English Centre of PEN, the international association of writers, remain extremely concerned about the welfare of a number of Uzbek writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

We were extremely disappointed to hear that recent suggestions that your nephew, Jamshid Karimov, had been released from Samarkand hospital, were entirely fictitious. According to our information, following the release of activists Dilmurod Muihitdinov and Mamarajab Nazarov, it was believed that Jamshid had also been released. However, it has since been confirmed that he remains detained in the Samarkand hospital where he has been held for over two years, since September 2006. Whilst in detention, Jamshid has been forced to take psychotropic drugs and has rarely been allowed to see his family. His mother, Margarita Karimova, died earlier this year; Jamshid was of course unable to be with her.

However, Jamshid's case is by no means an isolated one. Most recently, we were shocked to learn of the charges against the independent journalist and human rights defender Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov. According to our information, Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov will be appealing the ten year sentence handed down to him for the possession of illegal substances on 10 October 2008. However, medical tests have confirmed that Abdurakhmanov is not a drug user, whilst the information found in his belongings showed no evidence of illegal activity. Despite this, the charges have now been modified from drug use to drug dealing, for which he could face up to twenty years imprisonment. It is firmly believed that the charges against him were pre-fabricated and are a punishment for his journalistic and human rights work.

We were also extremely concerned by reports in May of this year that the Uzbek poet, Yusuf Juma, who was arrested in December 2007, hasbeen subject to torture in prison. According to our information, a letter has been sent to French President Nicolas Sarkozy asking him to intervene in this case, and suggesting that if urgent action is not taken Yusuf Juma may well die in detention.

We also remain deeply concerned about the well-being of Muhammed Bekjanov, an Honorary Member of the English, American, USA and Canadian PEN Centres. Bekjanov has reportedly been subject to ill-treatment whilst in prison and had also contracted tuberculosis. We are desperately seeking further information about Bekjanov, and strongly urge the authorities to ensure that he is treated humanely whilst in detention and given full access to the necessary medical care.

Finally, we continue to call upon the Uzbek authorities to release writer and opposition activist Mamadali Makhmudov, an Honorary Member of English, American, Canadian, Netherlands and USA PEN Centres, who has been imprisoned for nearly ten years in violation of his right to free expression.

We strongly urge the Uzbek authorities to release these five imprisoned writers, in conformity with Uzbekistan's constitution and obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory.
We would welcome your comments on our appeal.

Yours sincerely,
Lisa AppignanesiPresident, English PEN
Sir Tom StoppardVice-President, English PEN
Jonathan HeawoodDirector, English PEN
Richard McKane Member of English PEN Writers in Prison Committee
Moris FarhiMember of English PEN Writers in Prison Committee

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