7 June 2007
Once justice and legitimacy fade away a state becomes a gang of bandits. Augustine Aurelius.
Report from the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
Tursinbai Utamuratov arrested again
The day before yesterday, 5 June, in the town of Magnit in the Karakalpakistan Republic (RKK) Tursinbai Utamuratov, representative of the RKK division of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), was arrested. This is his second arrest in the past four and a half years.
He was arrested on the basis of a statement made by a group of police officers, in which they claimed that he had beaten them. But the incident between him and the police officers did not occur in some deserted place, but in the house of the person, whose interests he had been defending in the civil court on the basis of a legal, notary-confirmed document (power of attorney).
The fact that police officers came to the house of this person at midday, when he (T. Utamuratov) was there chatting to his client, discussing the process of civil case suggests that the reason for T. Utamuratov’s arrest was organised and fabricated. When summonsed by the police officers, T. Utamuratov and his client came out of the house to them. He showed the policemen the house owner’s ‘power-of-attorney’ document, issued by a notary. But they did not “recognise” it and rejected the document that T. Utamuratov had shown, at which point the rights activist said he would lodge a complaint with the procurator. In the heat of anger, one of the policemen pushed T Utamuratov hard, knocking him to the ground. As he was picking himself up, the policemen quickly left the place where it happened.
T Utamuratov was still in his client’s house when another group of police officers came to arrest him, so everything happened in a short space of time. He had not even had the opportunity to lodge a complaint to the procurator about the illegal activities of the law enforcement officials. The illegality of these so-called law enforcement officials is not only because they roughly used force against a person, who was the defender of another person on a legal basis, but that they did not recognise a document, received by T. Utamuratov from a government organisation – a notary – which amounts to disrespect toward government institutions.
The current arrest of T. Uramuratov is his third. The first time he was arrested was in 1996, when he was still working for the “xokimiyat” (administration) of the Amudar’ya district of RKK. T Utamuratov was arrested and sentenced then solely because he spoke out against the illegal actions of the district procurator, G. Babadjanova, on the matter of distribution of land portions to farmers. On his release, T. Utamuratov did not surrender to the malicious violators of the laws, those who sent him to the prison bunks completely illegally. He brought an action to court against the procurator G. Babadjanova, procurator of RKK, representative of the Supreme court of the country U. Mingboev, first deputy of the General Procurator A Ergashev, against the investigators – in total against twelve responsible parties.
In the summer of 2001 T Utamuratov was chosen as the representative of the RKK division of HRSU and became one of the best human rights defenders of our organisation. His human rights activity was concrete – he defended the rights and interests of people primarily in civil actions. Although not a lawyer, he nevertheless won court cases, which brought him the hostility of the judicial bodies.
T. Utamuratov was arrested for a second time on 4 September 2002. The fabrication of the criminal case against him was so obvious that right from the beginning it was carried out with blatant procedural violations. For example, there were outright violations of the territorial investigation of the case (article 346 of the Criminal Process Codex of Republic of Uzbekistan), the territorial jurisdiction of the case (article 391), the right of the accused to choose a defence lawyer and so on. The Khodjeyly district criminal court sentenced T.Utamuratov to 9 years imprisonment, despite the fact that at no stage in the case was the court able to prove his guilt.
Almost simultaneously the authorities arrested (16 September 2002) three human rights activists from the Nishan district division of the HRSU (Kashkadar’ya region): Djura Muradov (representative), Musurmonkul Xamraev and Norpulat Rajabov. From 29 April 2003 HRSU has started to organise protest pickets for the release of political prisoners of the HRSU. In July-August 2003 the three from Nishan were released, and T. Utamuratov was released on 4 October 2003.
Currently the following rights activists from the HRSU are in prison:
- Norboi Xoljigitov (Ishtixan, Samarkand region);
- Sattor Iraev (Ishtixan, Samarkand region);
- Xabibulla Akpulatov (Ishtixan, Samarkand region);
- Azam Farmonov (Gulistan, Syirdar’ya region);
- Alisher Karamatov (Gulistan, Syirdar’ya region);
- Ikhtiyer Khamraev (Djizak, Djizak region);
- Nasim Isakov (Djizak, Djizak region);
- Jamshid Karimov (Djizak, Djizak region;
- Yuldash Rasulev (Karshi, Kashkadar’ya region);
- Tursinbai Utamuratov (Magnit, Republic of Karakalpakistan).
Chairman of The Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan.