March 17, 2001
Press Center of Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
The report prepared for the international conference in Vienna:
“Freedom of Expression New and existing challenges
(The information of the Center for Journalism in Extreme situations is used in the report)
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Everything which happens in Uzbekistan serve as a big threaten for the security and development not only of Uzbekistan but all Central Asia.
When the authorities tell that the country is going through the difficult transitional period, they talk about that with a reason and without it, they speak the truth. But they never talk that all that happens because of criminality of economics, violence of the authorities against the society, a big level of corruption, bribery and collective guarantee, that venality of justice became a norm of life.
Let me attract your attention on the problem of the freedom of expression in Uzbekistan.
According to the information of the institute of sociological researches “Public Opinion” (Uzbekistan) 38 % of journalists think that censorship institute should exist. Thus one can conclude that many journalists in Uzbekistan don’t have in their mentality the democratic traditions. Journalists intentionally avoid talking about problematic and dangerous topics, so called self-censorship still exists.
In Uzbek Mass Media communistic past of existing state government is intentionally being hidden, there is no any information about the incomes of the workers and relatives of the president, absence of the information anout the prisons and columns, information about rights of prisoners, existing of opposition, opposition press abroad. There is no any balance of opinions in all information programs, all themes and problems are discussed in the benefit of state authorities.
Because there is no free and independent means of Mass Media people don’t have any other opportunities but to appeal to foreign mass Media. However, the criminal decisions show that expression of one’s opinion with the help of foreign Mass Media the authorities of Uzbekistan qualify as the break of constitutional structure and the citizens are persecuted after.
Hazratkul Kadirov who worked in the timber industry of Uzun city, Surhandar’ya region, gave an interview to the correspondent of English company BBC in the November of the last year. On November 11th Kadirov was arrested and in three days his dead body was given to his relatives. The workers of the Internal Affairs Department of Saraasiya district told that Hazratkul Kadirov died because of infarct. “I went to participate in the funeral and noticed the body of Hazratkul; his head was broken, hands, fingers and legs were broken, his body was pricked with a screwdriver in more than 50 places, some organs are cut, – writes the author of complain his brother Ahmankul Kodirov. This way the appeals of the citizens to Mass Media are treated.
Speaking about the freedom of expression I would like to note that imprisonment of journalists trying to give an objective view of potential threatens in Uzbekistan is increasing.
During more than three years journalist of Samarkand TV Shodi Mardiev is imprisoned in spite of repeated requests of human rights societies, letters addressed to the President of Uzbekistan Karimov I.A. He is kept in one of the most restricted prisons of Uzbekistan Kizil Tepa (Bukhara region). Besides Shodi Mardieav another journalist Shanozar Ermatov from Khorezm is kept there. Mamadali Mahmudov, Rashid Bekjanov, Komil Bekjanov are still in the prison. Moreover, there are a lot of other journalists in prison about whom general public doesn’t know anything because the government so desire.
Thus, in Uzbekistan at the moment is tremendously difficult situation. In society exists general fear against the government, military psychosis, teh feeling of suspicion and servility.
Human Rights Institutes of Uzbekistan, which must control the human rights maintenance work against their own people. So, Ombudsman of Uzbekistan and National Center for Human Rights don’t reply the appeals of citizens during several years, while it’s under the law of Uzbekistan to reply the appeal during one month. There are cases, when citizens don’t ever get replies for their appeals.
National Center for Human Rights practices violent sending of citizens who comes with the appeals to their Center to psychiatric clinic, as it’s told “from hands to hands”.
Words given below of Lidiya Dunaeva serve as the real example what brings the wish of citizens to express themselves free and protect their rights.
“I cried and couldn’t believe in the reality of happening events. Muslimov H. was standing on the way and didn’t let me enter to the room of Akmal Saidov – director of the National Center for Human Rights where I had appointed meeting. Then Akmal Saidov let me enter and sit down. He left but in 15 minutes it wasn’t him to enter the room but three men who took me to the psychiatric clinic. I was against my will violently given injections and made to take some strange medicines. Than I was made to write a paper where I had to agree that I never ever complain again. I will never forget the words of the head physician: “take away this carrion” and how the cleaner was dragging me being half dead on the floor”.
There are many examples like this. All attempts of citizens to free express their opinion are persecuted. Moreover, they use cruel tortures, psychological influence and other methods of inhuman treatment. Let me give you some more examples.
The government has made the genocide of its own people in Zarbdor. Again everything has begun after people from Kishtut district let the government know that caravan of drug traffickers which was crossing their territory. After that complain all people from that district were violently moved to another district Zarbdor.
The correspondent of the “Trud” newspaper in Uzbekistan wrote an article about the case of “Bukhara doctors”. During much time in Bukhara peopel were killed with a purpose of selling their organs abroad. Let me note that here organized crime and high officials are involved. That’s why the government makes all possible to prevent this case from wide publicity.
Lucenko Vladimir Stepanovich described the problem of Chernibilcis of Uzbekistan, people who suffered from the liquidation of damage in Chernobil Atom Electric Station (CHAES). In the result of crime activities of the authorities 14.000 of chernobilcis turned out to be in the very difficult situation while the charitable means subjected for the treatment and support for chernobilcis are used in the personal use of authorities. After Lucenko V. S. began to talk about this important problem the government using legal agencies makes attempts to violently move him out of Tashkent where he lives now.
Working in such difficult conditions our workers are doing their best to help citizens to free express their opinions.
Unfortunately the persecution of the workers of HRSU for the last time is increasing. Somebody has decided to use more radical measures having poured over the door of the consultant of HRSU with petrol and set it on fire while everybody was sleeping. Let me note that all this happened after she participated in the picket near to the building of the City Council to support the citizens in their wish peacefully express their opinions and to be heard.
On February 14th our organization was the first non-governmental organization in Uzbekistan to open human rights web site. At the same day was opened the Press Center in Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan. I specially prepared and worked on these two projects to show that we shouldn’t afraid to free express our thoughts.
However, after this there are many obstacles for the spreading of our reports in the system if internet, our e-mail is being blocked and destroyed. There is a danger that access to the internet will become practically impossible if it continues this way. But in spite of all this obstacles we continue to work.
Attracting your attention to these problems, HRSU supports many human rights defenders and politicians that it’s necessary to get rid of dangerous tension in the society and take all necessary steps for strengthening of security in Uzbekistan.