O’ZBEKISTON INSON ОБЩЕСТВО ПРАВ HUMAN RIGHTS
HUQUQLARI JAMIYATI ЧЕЛОВЕКА УЗБЕКИСТАНА SOCIETY OF UZBEKISTAN
(O’IHJ) (ОПЧУ) (HRSU)
27, 15, Yunusabad-4, TASHKENT, 700093; tel/fax (998712) 24-82-47; tel. (99871) 121-74-47
Press Center of Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
January 28, 2004
Attorney General John Ashcroft
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Mr. Ashcroft:
This is a letter from Talib Yakubov, the chairman of he Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU). Our organization, which has been active for 12 years, was the first human rights organization in Uzbekistan’s history. We are members of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (Vienna, Austria).
I write to you, Mr. Ashcroft, about an attempt by Uzbekistan’s authorities to extradite several Uzbek citizens currently residing in the United States.
The HRSU has in its possession documents that have been sent to the U.S. Department of Justice by Uzbekistan’s Prosecutor-General Rashitjon Qadirov and Militia Major Nishonboy Begmanov, an investigator at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In these documents, the abovementioned officials accuse three citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan of involvement in terrorist activities and extremism and ask U.S. law enforcement authorities to extradite them to Uzbekistan. We would like to say the following about these individuals and other Uzbek citizens.
In 1998-1999, a group of talented young people left their educational institutions in Uzbekistan for the United States. They include:
· Farrux Ayupjanovich Farrux, a third-year student at the Tashkent Oriental Studies University majoring in international economic relations;
· Bexzod Baxtiyorovich Yusupov, a graduate of the English language department at the Tashkent University of World Languages. He departed officially for the United States on November 12, 1999 to continue his English studies.
· Erkinjon Abudjonivich Zakirov departed officially for the United States on February 26, 1999 to continue his studies on the eve of his graduation from the Tashkent University of World Languages. His travel to the United States was organized by the Kamolot Foundation and funded by Mr. Zakirov himself. Please find enclosed a letter from his wife, Sadoqat Asatullaevna Zakirova.
· Ismoil Abduhamidovich Samadov and Otabek Nuritdinovich Muminov also departed for the United States on February 26, 1999 with the help of the Kamolot Foundation along with Mr. Zakirov and others.
The list could be continued. We stress that these young people left for the United States officially, with the full knowledge of the authorities and with exit visas from Uzbekistan and entry visas for the United States. Not one of them had been accused of any crime by Uzbekistan’s law enforcement authorities before their departure for the United States. Criminal cases were opened against them in 2001-2002. According to the logic of Uzbekistan’s authorities, the abovementioned young men left for the United States to become terrorists. We believe that this official “logic” is an insult to the United States. The abovementioned individuals do not have any involvement either with terrorism or extremism.
Please find enclosed with this appeal a report by the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan on the report on torture by Theo van Boven, special rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, presented pursuant to Commission Resolution 2002/38 on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
At present, no doubts remain that that independent states that arose in Central Asia after the collapse of the USSR have chosen a totalitarian-authoritarian course of development. Uzbekistan is no exception.
From the moment it came to power, the government of Uzbekistan has conducted a policy of crushing dissident thought and any opposition, be it secular or religious. By the end of 1993, such oppositional organizations as Birlik (Unity) and the Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party were forced to cease their activities and their leaders were compelled to emigrate. Uzbek political émigrés currently reside in the United State, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Germany, England, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, and Norway.
Since 1992, when Islam Karimov was elected to the post of president of the Republic of Uzbekistan, political prisoners appeared. They currently number in the thousands.
The religious opposition has suffered most of all. The repressive policies of Uzbekistan’s authorities have focused on the religious opposition since 1997 and continue to this day. According to our sources, Uzbekistan’s penitentiary system today holds more than 30,000 prisoners of conscience. Two concentration camps have been constructed to house them – one near Jaslyk (Republic of Karakalpakistan) and another near Zangiat outside Tashkent.
Horrific methods of torture are applied to these prisoners, who have received lengthy sentences for their religious convictions. Theo von Boven, the special rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on torture, was in Uzbekistan from November 24, 2002 to December 6, 2002. He announced at a press conference that the use of torture in Uzbekistan’s prisons has become systematic.
From these prisons families receive the bodies of hundreds of young people who have perished under torture.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to neighboring countries and more distant lands.
The arbitrary actions of the authorities have provoked ubiquitous dissatisfaction among the population.
Dear Mr. Ashcroft! We appeal to you, and to all employees of the United States Department of Justice who are in any fashion involved in the case of these Uzbek citizens, not to undertake any rash actions for the benefit of the violent, authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan. The repatriation of these Uzbek citizens could have terrible consequences for them.
If you require further information about the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan or confirmation of its legitimacy and activities, please feel free to contact:
Central Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
Tel: 212-216-1280 (direct)
United States Embassy
Tel: (+ 99871) 120-54-50
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Centre in Tashkent
Tel: (+ 99871) 132-5601
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Tel: (+ 431) 408-8822
Fax: (+ 431) 408-8822-50
Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
Human Rights Watch
1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
The Washington Post
Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW