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Poet Yusuf Juma ill-treated in prison

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is concerned by reports that the Uzbek poet, Yusuf Juma, who was arrested in December 2007 and sentenced to five years imprisonment, is suffering ill-treatment in prison. The WiPC is seeking assurances of Juma's well-being, clarification of the reasons for Juma's detention and assurances that he is not being held in denial of his right to freedom of expression.

In early November, Feruza Juma, Juma's daughter, visited her father in the maximum-security Jaslyk prison. She reports that Juma's health is deteriorating and that he is suffering beatings and ill-treatment by the prison wardens. She claims that she saw bruises on her father's body. She reports that her request to the prison head to allow Juma to meet with his lawyer was refused.

Juma's sentence reportedly states that he should serve his five-year term at Kungrad prison, in Karakalpakstan, however he was transferred to Jaslyk prison earlier this year for unknown reasons. Jaslyk Prison, which is based in a remote area of northwest Uzbekistan, is notorious for its harsh conditions. It is situated in a former Soviet military camp on land said to be heavily contaminated with chemical and biological waste. With no roads, the only access is via infrequent rail links, making visits by family and lawyers extremely arduous, and thus infrequent.

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