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Human rights worker sentenced to seven years in prison for "speaking up about things the government tries to silence," says CJES

(CJES/IFEX) - The following is a statement by CJES:

On 1 May 2007, the Sergeli District Court in Tashkent, under the presiding judge Nizam Rustamov, sentenced CJES's colleague Umida Niyazova to seven years in prison.

During two days of so called "justice", Uzbekistan managed to demonstrate neglect of its own Constitution. Criminally enough and - to ensure journalists and observers would not be present - without prior notice, the government of Uzbekistan has once again made it clear it that its fierce crackdown on people for their opinions and professional activities will continue.

Umida Niyazova was not arrested and sentenced because she committed any crimes against humanity or crimes undermining the state; she was sentenced simply because she had the courage to speak up about things that the Uzbekistan government tries to silence: the state's crimes during the Andijan tragedy and the huge number of human rights violations in the country.

Uzbekistan has a choice: to free Umida Niyazova and stop prosecuting people with opinions that differ from those of the state, or to remain a totalitarian country under pressure from the international community and from individuals who will not stop in their struggle for the release of Umida Niyazova as well as other political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Umida Niyazova was found guilty of illegal border crossing, carrying contraband, and fostering unrest by distributing material causing public disorder (articles 223, 246 and 244 of the Uzbek criminal code).

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