Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov (Салиджон Абдурахманов), an independent journalist who has been in prison since 2008 serving a ten-year sentence on a trumped-up charge of drug trafficking.
Abdurakhmanov has a stomach ulcer and his state of health has worsened a great deal in recent months.
“We are extremely worried about Abdurakhmanov,” Reporters Without Borders said. “After five years in prison in appalling conditions, this 63-year-old man's continuing detention is criminal. We hold the prison authorities responsible for his fate and we urge them to provide a complete report on his state of health without delay.
“The international community must work together to press the Uzbek government to release all political prisoners. The attitude of the European Union, which lifted sanctions on Uzbekistan although the conditions previously set had not been satisfied, is tantamount to abandonment.”
One of the few independent journalists in the western autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, Abdurakhmanov wrote many articles about the public health and human impact of the Aral Sea ecological disaster. He also was regional director of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights in Karakalpakstan.
Abdurakhmanov was arrested on a charge of “consuming drugs” under article 276.2 of the criminal code on 7 June 2008, when police found drugs in his car shortly after he had collected from the workshop where he had left it for repairs.
He has always denied the charge and insists that the police planted the drugs. After tests showed that he had not consumed drugs, the charge was changed to “drug trafficking,” for which he was given the ten-year sentence in October 2008 at the end of a trial marked by violation of defence rights.
Karakalpakstan's supreme court confirmed the sentence the following month without offering any grounds for its decision.
According to Uznews, an independent news website, Abdurakhmanov was recently transferred to a prison hospital in Tashkent, the capital, that is reserved for the most gravely ill detainees. This was the second time since February that he had been transferred to this hospital.
The news of his hospitalization is all the more disturbing because the International Committee of the Red Cross was prevented from seeing him twice during prison inspections in 2012.
Reporters Without Borders also calls for the immediate release of nine other journalists held in connection with their journalistic work:
- Khayrullo Khamidov (Nawruz) - held since 21 January 2010
- Dilmurod Sayid (Ezgulik) - held since 22 February 2009
- Bakhrom Ibragimov (Irmok) - held since 16 February 2009
- Davron Kabilov (Irmok) - held since 16 February 2009
- Ravshanbek Vafoev (Irmok) - held since 16 February 2009
- Abdulaziz Dadakhonov (Irmok) - held since 16 February 2009
- Botyrbek Eshkuziev (Irmok) - held since 16 February 2009
- Jusuf Ruzimuradov (Erk) - held since 15 March 1999
- Mohammed Bekzhanov (Erk) - held since 15 March 1999
Read the December 2011 Human Rights Watch report “No One Left to Witness” on prison conditions and use of torture in Uzbekistan.