Reporters Without Borders are shocked at presence of Gulnara Karimova at "Cinema against AIDS" event in Cannes
Reporters Without Borders international organization protested against the participation of Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, at the annual "Cinema against AIDS" charity event, organized by AmfAR, American organization for AIDS relief, withib Cannes film festival. On May 19, Jean-François Julliard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, addressed the open letter to AmfAR vice-President with the request to avoid Gulnara Karimova’s participation in the film festival.
The letter, posted at the reporters’ website, says "the international organisation for the defense of journalists, is astonished to note the presence among you at this 7th annual event of Gulnara Karimova. The organization recognizes the evening’s valid and admirable character, but questions the appropriateness of the participation of the daughter of the Uzbek president, Islam Karimov".
"While Reporters Without Borders accepts the importance of AIDS prevention and the value of such events, it would however like to jog your memory about some disturbing and significant facts. The prevention of AIDS is vital but should not be at the expense of fundamental values", the letter indicates.
Reporters remind that some months ago, a young activist, Maksim Popov, aged 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison for distributing information about the fight against AIDS. The brochures he was distributing were about how to stem the spread of HIV. These publications were deemed by the court to be “contrary to the mentality and moral basis of the Uzbek people’s society, religion, culture and traditions”. It should not be forgotten either that homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years imprisonment in this country; and it is a criminal offence to discuss condoms with anyone under-age, Reporters underline.
"While AmfAR on 10 May signed a petition calling for the release of Maksim Popov, you currently have among your donors, Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the president, whose courts are responsible for the conviction of Maksim Popov. Could it be that you have a selective memory when you are offered major funding. Does it alter your objectives?"
Reporters Without Borders remind that Uzbek president is listed in the “predators of press freedom” released annually on 3 May and Uzbekistan is ranked 160th out of 175 countries on the organization’s press freedom index. Eleven journalists are currently in jail (their names are included in the letter), where they are often maltreated.
"As Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Spain and Switzerland, Gulnara Karimova, is therefore her country’s official representative, spokesperson for the harsh policies carried out by her father for several years. – says Jean-François Julliard - By accepting her presence at the forthcoming 7th annual event, Reporters Without Borders fears that you will give this country a profile that it in no way deserves. You will thus be colluding with repressive policies affecting not only those fighting against AIDS, but also all those, who in the worst of dictatorships, suffer arbitrary imprisonment and torture".
While Reporters Without Borders does not wish to engage in further polemic about the current correlation between financial contributions and blindness to the real situation in Uzbekistan, the organization calls on AmfAR to demand that Gulnara Karimova takes a significant step in support of Maxim Popov and the Uzbek detainees or withdraws. According to Reporters, this action would meet the goals of AmfAR and surely will be useful for prevention of AIDS in the republic, otherwise discrediting the positions of AmfAR.