28 september 2020

Central Asia news

Suspected Hizb-ut-Takhrir activists are arrested in Uzbekistan by the dozen

01.06.2006 21:34 msk

Staff correspondent

Religious life

Uzbek human rights activists report arrests of believers in the Tashkent region (Chinaz, Yangiyul, and Zangiatin districts) these last two months. Law enforcement agencies suspect them of being Hizb-ut-Takhrir activists. More than a hundred have already been arrested in Uzbekistan on charges of terrorism and conspiracies against the constitutional regime this year.

Sources say that the SOP never varies. Several armed policemen accompanied by an officer of the National Security Service force their way into a household, turn it upside down, and never unearth anything banned. Law enforcement agencies inevitably take a family member away with the promise to release him again soon - and never keep their promise.

Three policemen and one officer of the National Security Service entered the house of Kamol Nuritdinov (born in 1977) in Yangiyul on May 18. A thorough search failed to produce any incriminating evidence but Nuritdinov was led away all the same. He is in the detention cell of the Tashkent Regional Directorate of Internal Affairs now, regularly tortured according to Nuritdinov's wife. She said her husband has never been involved with Hizb-ut-Takhrir.

Akhmadilla Mirzayev (born in 1983) was arrested in Chinaz. Officers ransacked his home in search of weapons and did not find any. Mirzayev was arrested anyway. As a matter of fact, his father Abdurakhim had been compelled to flee the country in his time (no information is available on his current whereabouts). Akhmadilla's brother Abdulaziz was charged with Hizb-ut-Takhrir membership in 1999 and sentenced to 18 years behind the bars. Abdulaziz was repeatedly tortured too.

Inobat Mirzayeva, the mother of five, claims that all her children are peasants who have never been involved with Hizb-ut-Takhrir. "The police have been terrorizing us for these last 8 years," she said. "We live in fear every day."

Otabek Abdurakhmanov was arrested in the same district on April 6. His brother Doston had drawn 9 years imprisonment as a Hizb-ut-Takhrir member in 1999. The authorities including the president do not even acknowledge any complaints and pleas from the mother, Nazira Abdurakhmanova, much less respond to them.

Hasan Turdikhojayev and his five neighbors from Pakhtaabad Street were arrested in Chinaz on April 6. All of them were taken to the detention cell of the Tashkent Regional Directorate of Internal Affairs for torture. "Police terror has taught us to fear going to sleep at home," Hasan's mother Anipa said.

Surat Ikramov, Chairman of the Initiative Group of Independent Uzbek Human Rights Activists, called all these cases fabricated and said that not a single trial has ended in acquittance yet.

"Some defendants drew suspended sentences and were released right in the courtroom," Ikramov said. "In most cases, however, arrestees are tortured and sentenced to years behind the bars even though the prosecution has never produced any convincing evidence yet as far as we've been able to tell."

Ikramov is convinced that Hizb-ut-Takhrir membership is but an excuse because "the assumption that someone will want to join a banned organization and disregard the total state terror is really a laugh."

"That's an explicit political campaign aimed to prove to the international community that there are people in Uzbekistan who pose a threat to the regime," Ikramov said. "That's how enemies of the people were hunted down under Stalin in the 1930's. Every dictatorship needs "enemies" to justify its own criminal actions - like the events in Andijan last May. That's the only explanation of the frequency with which "enemies of the people" are picked up on the anniversary of this outrage. Do not expect any slackening of the repressions in the foreseeable future."

The Court of Appeals contemplated the case of Mutabar Tajibayeva, Fiery Hearts Club leader and human rights activist, not long ago. Charges under several "economic articles" of the Criminal Code had been pressed against her. Tajibayeva was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment and the Court of Appeals backed the verdict. Tajibayeva and her lawyers will appeal to the Supreme Court now.

The Tashkent Regional Criminal Court is meeting today to contemplate the sentences drawn by eight residents of Yangiyul this March. Tried for involvement with a banned religious organization, the men from Yandiyul drew suspended sentences and challenged them. They insist on complete acquittance.