Freedom for five Uzbek writers
We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned about the well-being of five Uzbek writers whom we believe have been detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression. JAMSHID KARIMOV. We were extremely disappointed to hear that recent suggestions that Jamshid Karimov, had been released were entirely fictitious, and that he in fact he remains detained in the Samarkand hospital where he has now been held for over two years, since September 2006. Whilst in detention, Jamshid has been forced to take psychotropic drugs and has rarely been allowed to see his family. His mother, Margarita Karimova, died earlier this year. Karimov was, of course, unable to be with her. SALIDZHON ABDURAKHMANOV On 10 October 2008, independent journalist and human rights defender Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov was handed down a ten year sentence for the possession of illegal substances. Medical tests have confirmed that Abdurakhmanov is not a drug user, whilst the information found in his belongings showed no evidence of illegal activity. Despite this the charges have since been modified from drug use to drug dealing, for which he could face up to twenty years imprisonment. It is firmly believed that the charges against him were pre-fabricated and are a punishment for his journalistic and human rights work. YUSUF JUMA Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma was arrested in December 2007, and has reportedly been subject to torture in prison. According to our information, a letter has been sent to French President Nicolas Sarkozy asking him to intervene in this case, and suggesting that if urgent action is not taken Yusuf Juma may well die in detention. MUHAMMAD BEKZHON (BEKJANOV) Muhammed Bekzhon (Bekjanov), an Honorary Member of the English, American, USA and Canadian PEN Centres, has reportedly been subject to ill-treatment whilst in prison and had also contracted tuberculosis. We are desperately seeking further information about Bekjanov, and strongly urge the authorities to ensure that he is treated humanely whilst in detention and given full access to the necessary medical care. MAMADALI MAKHMUDOV Writer and opposition activist Mamadali Makhmudov, an Honorary Member of English, American, Canadian, Netherlands and USA PEN Centres, has been imprisoned for nearly ten years in violation of his right to free expression. As such, we are strongly urging President Karimov to release these five men immediately and unconditionally, in conformity with Uzbekistanâ��s constitution and obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory.