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REGIONS:

Journalist released after five years' detention in psychiatric hospital

(WiPC/IFEX) - 30 November 2011 - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the news that dissident journalist Dzhamshid Karimov was reportedly released on 6 November 2011 following five years' detention in a psychiatric facility. However, PEN remains highly concerned at reports that Karimov's health may have suffered due to the forced administration of psychotropic medicines. The WiPC is also concerned that a number of other writers and journalists remain in long-term detention in Uzbekistan. PEN International calls on the Uzbek authorities to live up to its commitments to protect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Dzhamshid Karimov, nephew of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, was reported by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) to have been discharged on 6 November 2011 from a psychiatric hospital in the capital Samarkand where he was being detained since September 2006. The journalist was spotted in his hometown of Jizak on 6 November 2011 during the recent Eid al-Adha celebrations. It is claimed that his release was prompted by the recent visit to Uzbekistan of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on 22 October 2011.

It was reported by the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan that Karimov had suffered serious damage to his health due to the use of strong psychotropic drugs while detained.


Background

Karimov, 44, worked as a journalist for the London-based IWPR until May 2005 and subsequently for a number of other publications. He disappeared on 12 September 2006 and was not heard from until two weeks later when friends discovered that the journalist was being held in a psychiatric hospital in the capital, Samarkand. The chief psychiatrist at the hospital stated that Karimov suffers from a psychiatric disorder and was accepting medication. He was reported at the time to having been held in a room on his own. Karimov was allowed visits from his mother and fiancé who reported that on occasion he appeared distressed and asked them to help him get out. In August 2007, there were reports that his health had deteriorated further, in particular his failing eyesight.

There were fears that Karimov's incarceration was directly related to his critical reporting. Despite his relation to President Islam Karimov, he was said to have been openly critical of his uncle's regime.

Since mid 2006 Karimov had been under surveillance by the intelligence agencies and in August 2006, his mother reportedly demanded of the authorities, unsuccessfully, that listening devices be removed from their property. Also in August 2006, Karimov's passport was seized after he applied for a visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan. It is reported that on 31 August 2006, the head of the regional administration visited Karimov and offered him positions on official newspapers, apparently in a bid to entice him to stop his independent journalism.

Karimov's mother, who had been outspoken in her son's defence, died in March 2008. Following her death, media attention and reporting on his ongoing detention decreased dramatically.
Click here for the full report by the IWPR on Karimov's release


Ongoing detention of writers in Uzbekistan

The WiPC of PEN International is also concerned over the ongoing detention of a number of other writers in Uzbekistan:

- Saildzhon Abdurakhmanov, a journalist for the Independent German-based Uzbek agency Uznews.net and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who was arrested on 7 June 2008 and is currently serving a ten year sentence on charges of possession and 'intent to sell' narcotics. There are concerns that these charges have been fabricated and that Abdurakhmanov was targeted due to his human rights monitoring.

- Mamadali Makmudov, a writer and opposition activist, arrested on 19 February 1999 who is currently serving a fourteen year prison sentence for charges which appear to be related to his writings for the opposition Erk newspaper. Makhmudov has claimed he was tortured during the investigation.

- Dilmurod Saidov, a journalist arrested on 22 February 2009 who is serving a twelve and a half year sentence for extortion and forgery following a trial which was reportedly riddled with procedural violations.
For more information on other writers currently detained in Uzbekistan please see the current WiPC Committee Case List


Recommended Action

Please send appeals:

• Welcoming the release of journalist Dzhamshid Karimov;

• Expressing concern at reports that his health has suffered as a result of his incarceration in a psychiatric hospital;

• Expressing concern at the ongoing detention of writers and journalist in Uzbekistan, in particular Saildzhon Abdurakhmanov, Mamadali Makmudov and Dilmurod Saidov;

• Calling on the Uzbeki authorities to live up to their commitments to respect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


Appeals to:

President Islam Abduganievch Karimov
70000 g. Tashkent, pr. Uzbekistansky, Rezidentsiya prezidenta
http://uz.embassyinformation.com/

Ms. Sayora Rashidova
Commissioner for Human Rights
700008 g. Tashkent, pl. Mustqkillik, 2 Oliy Majlis Respubliki Uzbekistan
Fax: +998 71 139 8555
Email: mtillaboev@oliymajlis.gov.uz

Please also copy the diplomatic representative of Uzbekistan in your own country. To find the address of the Uzbek embassies around the world visit http://uz.embassyinformation.com/
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