Rebecca Pizzoferrato 0

Human Right Defenders Under Threat

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"Uzbek authorities detained Alisher Karamatov and Azam Farmonov on April 29, 2006 as the two men defended the rights of local farmers.

The two, both of them regional heads of the independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, were allegedly tortured by authorities, charged with extortion and subjected to an unfair trial where they were denied adequate legal representation.

Amnesty International considers Alisher Karamatov, aged 41, and Azam Farmonov, aged 30, to be prisoners of conscience, jailed because of their efforts to defend the rights of local farmers who had accused district farming officials of extortion and corruption.

The two human rights defenders maintain that after they investigated the farmers' allegations and confronted local officials with their findings, some of the farmers were coerced, including through physical intimidation, into claiming that Farmonov and Karamatov had pressured the farmers to accuse the local officials of wrongdoing."

Karamatov and Farmonov state that they had been beaten, tortured, even having gas masks put over their heads with the air supply turned off. They reported having their legs and heels beaten and were forced to sign confessions.

Recent health concerns have risen for Mr. Karamatov. Since 2008 he has been treated for tuberculosis. From 2007 to present, he's been subjected to torture, beating, and humiliation by prison guards. He lost nearly half his body weight. Farmonov still remains at Yaslik prison camp.

"Amnesty International is concerned that the number of human rights activists and independent journalists from Uzbekistan who have been imprisoned or harassed by the Uzbekistani authorities for their work has not decreased."

Since the May 2005 Andizhan events, persecutions of have risen steadily. Security forces fired into crowds of people in the city's central square, killing and wounding hundreds. As a result of this event, the Uzbekistani authorities have tightened controls on freedom of expression. Imprisonment, ill-treatment of human rights defenders has accelerated. Protests over the killings have not stopped.

This campaign is credited to To help these two men, other humans rights protectores, and express your concern please visit this website.

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