Uzbekistan: school directors speak out about regular physical abuse by local government official
In an interview with Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty’s Uzbek Service, a school director of Saikhunabad District in Uzbekistan’s Syrdarya Region has revealed that assault and other mistreatment were a regular occurrence at meetings with local government officials, including the district head Nosirjon Egamberdiev, who allegedly used to beat and kick people.
A school director who spoke anonymously reported that he was the target of particular abuse that day: “It happened on 28 August, after the Independence Day celebrations took place in the district’s stadium. One hour before the beginning of the ceremony we were told to gather our students and lead them to the stadium. At the time, we were preparing for the new academic year on 1 September so we just could not assemble them – and hokim beat us up for that. That day, I suffered the most. He slapped me across the face three times but spared the director standing next to me because he was elderly. I was beaten so badly because I am younger than my colleagues,” said the director of a Saikhunabad District school.
He went on to say that the material published on the internet only shows a small part of the hokim’s lawless behaviour. “This is happening here all the time. Earlier, he was also striking people with other professions as well – like farmers and medical staff. At times, he could beat and even kick them. I have witnessed myself how he would call them in and then chase them out with kicks. He certainly thinks that he is allowed to do that,” the director said to RFE/RL.
He would not, however, issue a complaint about the illegal deeds to the judiciary: “He is a Hokim. If we complain, the prosecutor will side with him anyway, and we will end up guilty. Many people have seen the video, and many of the people I know are saying ‘why did you stay silent when he was beating you? Why did you not fight back?’ But you see, he is the hokim and I am an ordinary teacher! Him beating me – that is an everyday occurrence. But if I were to hit him, that would be a crime and even my abused colleagues would blame me. In any case, we are keeping quiet because of who he is,” the director said.
The day before, the Saikhunabad District prosecutor had started investigating against the official for assaulting the school directors. Now, the Uzbek Prosecutor General has stepped in and taken over the case.
The news portal Kun.uz reports that on the evening of 12 September, the head of Syrdarya Region arrived in the concerned Saikhunabad District to hold an emergency meeting where the district hokim Nosirjon Egamberdiev apologised to the directors he had abused, and, at the same time, announcing hard punitive measures against the brute. His case will be reviewed after the cotton harvesting season is over together with the question of whether he will continue to serve at all, writes Kun.uz.
However, two directors have told RFE/RL that the Hokim has not apologised to them for his actions: “If he wants to ask us for forgiveness, he should invite us to the administration, gather the district’s people there and then present his apology. Because this video was shared everywhere and many people have seen it.”
Nosirjon Egamberdiev started as hokim of Saikhunabad District in of Sirdarya Region in October 2016 and until then had worked as the department head for specialised and professional education of the region.
In the meantime, social media users as well as in the comment section of Ferghana News are continuing to express what they think about the incident:
“If they humiliate and beat highly educated people at work then what do everyday people have to go through when they are thrown into the torture chambers of the police? The frustration the teachers will feel, and, in the end, by children themselves. It is where the splash of crime among young people comes from – it is what they see and imitate. It has nothing to do with TV. Everybody already knew and heard about violent practices among the ranks of the authorities and what is happening in society. A kindergarten teacher is torturing small children with a knife. There are brothels in the kindergartens at night. Youngsters are killing their schoolmate together, and the hokim is beating school directors as if they were thieves. Just because a holiday was poorly attended, mothers will have to collect the dead bodies of their sons from the police.”
It makes the impression that in the hokim’s administration they recruited even the highest officials from the lowest and even criminal sphere. Their working method with the people is plainly criminal – scuffles, foul language, threats and violence. And this has become standard procedure among these ‘guardians’ of the people’s interests.”
“This is what’s become fashionable among hokims. And they are the ones who appoint our President. The people can neither elect nor dismiss them, so they raise their hands against them.”
“If they are tolerating it, they deserve it… All of this is just wild, medieval, filthy and disgusting.”
“Karimov’s legacy… we will remember it for a long time.”
Translated by Toni Michel