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Helsinki Commission to Hold Briefing on Politically and Religiously Motivated Imprisonment in Uzbekistan

WASHINGTON–The United States Helsinki Commission today announced a briefing:

“Imprisoned in Uzbekistan: Politically Motivated Cases”
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
11:00 a.m.

Rayburn House Office Building
Room 2200

Uzbekistan has one of the highest numbers of persons imprisoned on politically motivated charges of any former Soviet country. Human rights activists, journalists, and members of certain religious groups fall victim to restrictive laws and policies that curb basic human rights. In addition, there are consistent reports of widespread abuse and torture in Uzbekistan’s prisons, more than a decade after the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur on Torture concluded that torture was “systematic” in the country’s prisons and detention camps.

Human Rights Watch has issued a new report detailing the cases of 34 of Uzbekistan’s most prominent individuals imprisoned on politically-motivated charges, from poor conduct of trials to mistreatment in prison. While some governments claim that ensuring stability and fighting extremism are paramount, laws restricting political participation, independent journalism, civil society, and freedom of religion may have the opposite effect. This briefing will discuss the Human Rights Watch report and look at what impact such cases may have in Uzbekistan, as well as hear about the human cost directly from a former prisoner and a family member of a current prisoner.

Briefers:

  • Steve Swerdlow, Esq., Human Rights Watch Central Asia Researcher and Director, Bishkek Office
  • Dr. Sanjar Umarov, Former political prisoner
  • Aygul Bekjan, Daughter of imprisoned journalist Muhammad Bekjanov
  • Cathy Cosman, Senior Policy Analyst, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

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