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Uzbekistan - Latest Amnesty Excludes Imprisoned Writers

Friday 9 March 2012 - 12:00am

RAN 12/12 9 March 2012

PEN International is disappointed that a recent amnesty has not included five writers and journalists, all serving long prison sentences. The amnesty, which marked the 19th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s constitution on 7 December 2011, led to the release of prisoners in stages up to early March. PEN continues to call for the release of all writers and journalists detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

In 2009, PEN International issued an alert on journalist, Dilmurod Saidov, following the tragic death of his wife and small daughter in a car accident on their way to visit him in prison. He was sentenced on 30 July 2009 to twelve years in prison, convicted of extortion and bribery, charges that international human rights observers regard as fabricated and politically motivated. PEN International and other human rights observers believe that Saidov is being punished for reporting on corruption in Samarkand. Saidov is also suffering from tuberculosis, and since his imprisonment, he has been denied adequate medical treatment.

Saidov, in his early 50s, had been under pressure from government officials since 2005, when, in an article in the newspaper Advokat-Press, he criticised human rights violations in Uzbekistan. Saidov’s articles have been published in local newspapers and also on internet-based newsagencies reporting on Uzbekistan. He was also particularly active in defending the farmers’ rights in the Samarkand region, who from August 2008 became the victims of large-scale land grabs.

The other writers who will remain in prison are:

Mamadali Makhmunov – writer and opposition activist. In prison since 19 February 1999. His sentence of 14 years expires on 3 August 2013.
Muhammad Bekjanov – former journalist. In prison since March 1999. His sentence expires on January 2017.
Salidzhon Abrurakhanov – journalist for the independent German-based Uzbek agency In prison since 7 June 2008. His sentence of ten years expires on 6 June 2018.
Khayrullo Khamidov - Football commentator and radio-host, poet and deputy editor-of the newspaper Chempion (Champion). In prison since 21 January 2010. His sentence of six years in prison expires on 20 January 2016.

For more details on these cases read the Uzbek entry on the PEN WiPC caselist.

Several thousand prisoners are released each year under amnesties, usually they are those convicted of less serious offences, teenagers, women and prisoners aged over 60. This would have meant an early release for Mamadali Makhmudov (62) and Salidzhon Abdurakhanov (61). However, they still remain prison.

Read a detailed summary by Human Rights Watch of the flaws in Saidov’s trial:

Please send appeals

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Dilmurod Saidov, Mamadali Makhmunov, Muhammed Bekjanov, Salidzhon Abrurakhanov and Khayrullo Khamidov in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory.

Islam A. Karimov
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Rezidentsyia prezidenta
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaya 43
Fax: +998 71 139 5325

Nigmatilla Tulqinovich Yuldoshev
Minister of Justice
5, Saylgokh Str.
Fax: +998 71 2335176

Akmal Saidov
Head of the National Centre for Human Rights
Natsionalnyi tsentr po pravam cheloveka
5/3 Mustakillik Maidoni
Tashkent 700029
Fax: +998 71 139 13 56

Also send copies to the Uzbek embassy in your country.

***Please check with us if sending your appeal after 10 April 2012***

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. Our campaigns, events, publications and programmes aim to connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world.

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email: