The latest list of the persons subject to repressions in Uzbekistan in 2004-2005 published
"List of the persons arrested and sentenced for political and religious motives in Uzbekistan (January 2004 to December 2005)", a book by Human Rights Center Memorial was presented at the Independent Press Center.
Vitaly Ponomarev (director of the Memorial Central Asian Program), Valentin Gefter (executive director of the Institute of Human Rights), Yelena Ryabinina (head of the Aid to Central Asian Political Refugees Program of the Civil Assistance Committee) participated in the ceremony.
The publication includes names and other data on 875 people prosecuted for political and religious motives in Uzbekistan between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2005. The book continues Memorial's painstaking attempt at listing all people subject to repressions in Uzbekistan. The previous "List..." offered information on 4,304 persons prosecuted between December 1, 1997, and December 31, 2003.
According to Ponomarev, one of the authors of the publication, the authorities used the terrorist acts in March and July 2004 to launch a new wave of repressions that mounted social tension and eventually led to the Andizhan insurrection in May 2005. The uprising was brutally crushed. One hundred and eighty-seven people were killed according to official estimates (between 700 and several thousands by unofficial estimates). Instead of launching an investigation of the events in Andizhan, Islam Karimov's regime put into motion a campaign against human rights activists, journalists, and opposition leaders. Uzbek secret services went after refugees seeking shelter in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
"Presence of this or that person on the "List..." does not mean that Memorial approves of all his or her actions or seconds this person's position," authors of the publication said. "We firmly believe, however, that every person is entitled to freedom of expression of his or her convictions, to observance of religious rites, and to an unbiased trial in line with the acting legislation. Moreover, all of that is required by the international documents Uzbekistan is a signatory of. Unfortunately, reality has little if anything to do with the principles declared in these documents and in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan."
The publication is particularly exhaustive on detail of the repressive policy of the Uzbek authorities. The reader finds out, for example, that 95% of the persons on the list are Islamists. (One hundred and sixty-six of them were convicted of being activists or sympathizers with Hizb-ut-Takhrir, 142 sentenced for participation in the events in Andizhan, 45 sentenced as Akromija activists and 45 as Jamoati Tablig activists, and most of the rest as the Wahhabi or for illegitimate Islamic activities.) Other victims are human rights activists (14), political opposition activists (12), journalists (6), Witnesses of Jehovah (5), Christians (4), and so on. The 2004-2005 campaign of repression was particularly meticulous in Tashkent and three regions of the Ferghana Valley (including the Andizhan region). Women accounted for 8% of the repressed persons (70), eight times more than in 1998 and 1999... These is but a part of the information provided by the publication.
As far as Gefter is concerned, the information shows the "scale of Karimov's tyranny" so plainly as to require no comment. Gefter emphasized "scientific nature" of the publication which - bearing political realities in Uzbekistan in mind - was not an easy thing to accomplish.
Ryabinina spoke of the "Russian aspect" of the subject of the publication. She believes that Russian law enforcement agencies are going out of their way to assist Uzbek secret services nowadays, and that makes them accessory to the crimes committed by Karimov's regime. Commenting on the recent extradition of Uzbek refugees from Ukraine, Ryabinina pointed out that the episode had caused a major public outcry in this country and that nothing like that would hopefully be permitted to happen again.
The "List..." is not complete by default, and work on it continues. All the same, experts and researches will certainly find it helpful.
Gulnara Bekirova, historian and web site The Crimea and Crimean Tatars editor