20 october 2018

Central Asia news

Human rights activists stand up for "extremist" from Tashkent

30.11.2017 08:03 msk


Uzbek human rights defenders deny the information appeared in local media about the "extremist" Umida Uzakova had been arrested in Tashkent on one of these days. Her relatives intend to sue Norgul Abduraimova, the "UzA" ("National Information Agency of Uzbekistan") journalist for "slander and insult of honour and dignity," the report received by Fergana News from Surat Ikramov, the Chairperson of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan (IGNPU).

The reason for the proceedings was an article published on 24 November by the "UzA" news agency under the heading "An Extremist Woman was Detained in Shayhontahur." It says that Umida Uzakova allegedly brought an envelope with 14 "Hizb-ut-Tahrir" leaflets (a religious extremist organisation banned in Uzbekistan and other countries of Central Asia - note by Fergana News) to the mosque.

Reportedly the worshippers handed over the envelope to the imam, who reported the incident to the police and the national security service, after which the woman was detained on 22 November.

Meanwhile, according to human rights activists, Umida Uzakova, born in 1988, could not distribute any leaflets, since she has been in the custody of the Tashkent City Police for more than two weeks. She was among the 80 believers who were detained on 13-14 November, and whose homes were searched.

Later, most of the detainees were released, but five men and two women (including Uzakova) were detained in the SIZO (pre-trial custody centre). Their relatives claim that the detainees were subjected to torture, in connection with which they have already filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General's Office.

Human rights defenders also point to other inconsistencies in the "UzA" article. It states that Uzakova was allegedly apprehended in a multi-storey building of the "Center-26" area, however, as Ikramov writes, she had not lived there for a long time. The news report also did not mention the address of the mosque and the name of the imam, who allegedly told the SNB about the extremist leaflets.

BBC radio, who are broadcasting in Uzbek, turned to Norgul Abduraimova, the author of the article, to clarify this issue. However, the journalist recommended her colleagues to turn to the City Police adding that she "does not have to report to them."

In turn, the religious department of Muslims of Uzbekistan told the BBC that they do not have no information about the distribution of extremist leaflets.

IGNPU’s Ikramov said the organisation is continuing to receive statements about the arrest of close relatives of the believers, who are subjects in the so-called "blacklist" of the SNB which includes "unreliable believers" and those wanted because of their religious beliefs. In June, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev instructed the government to revise this list and exclude persons, groundlessly accused, from it. According to some reports, the list had earlier included more than 16,000 people.

In August, Uzbek authorities had announced the exclusion of several thousand citizens - members of religious extremist movements and dissidents, who are in exile, from the "blacklist."

Fergana News Agency