World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Uzbekistan: Reveal Fate of Jailed Activist

Uzbekistan: Reveal Fate of Jailed Activist

Family Believes Man Sentenced for Denouncing Massacre

The Uzbek government must clarify the fate of an Uzbek human rights defender who was arrested after speaking out about the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters on May 13 in Andijan, Human Rights Watch said today. Saidjahon Zainabitdinov, chairman of the Andijan human rights group Appeliatsia (Appeal), has been in custody for almost eight months and is believed to have gone on trial two weeks ago.

“Uzbek authorities are hiding information about Zainabitdinov’s whereabouts,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “They should immediately tell Saidjahon’s family and the international community what has happened to him.”

Zainabitdinov’s trial is believed to have started on January 4. Uzbek authorities did not tell even his family about the place and the date of the trial. A week later, unconfirmed reports indicated that Zainabitdinov had been sentenced to seven years. To date, Uzbek authorities have not confirmed to Human Rights Watch whether the trial has even started or whether Zainabitdinov has already been sentenced.

Zainabitdinov had published bulletins about the May 13 demonstration and the massacre, based on eyewitness reports from others. He had also spoken out about the events; many news reports quoted Zainabitdinov’s description of the events, and his assessment of the human rights, political, and economic context in Uzbekistan.

He was charged with spreading false information to the media and spreading panic among the population, and arrested as he crossed the border from Kyrgyzstan on May 21. 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 49 times on May 13.

Prior to those events, he had also closely followed the cases of people in the region accused of “religious extremism” whose prosecution sparked the May 13 uprising in Andijan.

“Uzbek authorities are punishing Zainabitdinov for telling the world what happened in Andijan,” said Cartner. “He should be released immediately.”

Zainabitdinov’s family and lawyer have had no news of his whereabouts for almost eight months, and have been told only that he is in custody in Tashkent.

If Zainabitdinov has been convicted, it would be the latest in a series of drastic measures taken by the Uzbek government to shut down civil society groups and silence their leaders. Five members of the human rights organization Ezgulik (Goodness) were accused of a variety of offenses, including infringement on the life of the president and the constitution, distribution of materials that endanger security and public order, and “religious extremism.” They were tried on January 9. One was sentenced to five years and four were released on parole on January 11.

The five men were arrested at the end of May 2005 because they distributed copies of a May 15 statement by the opposition political party Birlik (Unity) about the Andijan events, entitled “The Killers of the People Will Answer before History.” Mukhtabar Tojibaeva (of the organization “Burning Hearts”), Sanjar Umarov and Nodira Khidoyatova, two leaders of the opposition group Sunshine Coalition, are in custody, pending trial on a variety of politically motivated charges. On January 12, the Civil Court of Tashkent ordered the non-governmental organization Freedom House to suspend its activities in Uzbekistan for the next six months. In the past year, several international organizations and media outlets including Internews, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and Eurasia Foundation have had their activities suspended or staff credentials revoked.

“The government’s crackdown on civil society is unprecedented, even in Uzbekistan’s 14-year history of repression since independence from the Soviet Union,” said Cartner.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news