Uzbekistan: Agzam Turgunov arbitrarily arrested, fined and denied an exit visa

06/09/2018
Urgent Appeal

UZB 001 / 0918 / OBS 111
Arbitrary arrest/
Ill-treatment/
Judicial harassment
Uzbekistan
September 6, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Agzam Turgunov, Chairman of the human rights organisation “Mazlum” (“Oppressed”, in English). Mr. Agzam Turgunov has been actively advocating for the political and religious rights of convicted prisoners. He has long worked on problems of education and torture in prisons, as well as monitored judicial proceedings.

According to the information received, on August 29, 2018, Mr. Agzam Turgunov was arrested while recording with his phone a violent incident opposing members of the security forces and individuals gathered in front of the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan for a reception. Three men in civilian clothes approached him, refused to identify themselves, grabbed Mr. Turgunov roughly and forced him to get into a car. Once in the car, a police officer named Rustam Muradov grabbed Mr. Agzam Turgunov’s head and began to strangle him while trying to take his phone and delete the records. At the same time, he reproached Mr. Turgunov his “cooperation with the Americans and the West”. The same day, Mr. Turgunov was taken to the Shaikhantaur district Court for criminal cases where the judge set a trial date on the following day, before releasing him.

On August 30, 2018, Mr. Turgunov was convicted of “failure to carry out the lawful demands of a police officer or other persons carrying out duties to guard public order” under Article 194 of the administrative code of Uzbekistan. He was imposed a fine of one minimum wage (around 20 EUR). The policemen did not appear in court during the trial. Mr. Turgunov intends to appeal this decision.

On the same day, Mr. Turgunov was told by an agent of the Department of Visas and Passports that his request for permission to leave Uzbekistan to travel abroad had been denied. As other human rights defenders also under travel ban, he will not be able to attend the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the OSCE in Warsaw mid-September 2018.

The Observatory notes that this is not the first attack Mr. Agzam Turgunov has faced in retaliation to his legitimate human rights activities since he only was released from prison on October 7, 2017, after serving nine years of prison on unfounded extortion charges..

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Agzam Turgunov as they are only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Uzbek authorities to end any harassment, including at the judicial level, and drop all charges against him as well as against all the human rights defenders currently arbitrarily detained in the country as well as to lift all travel bans so that human rights defenders can freely carry out their right to defend human rights including at the international level.


Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uzbekistan asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Agzam Turgunov and all human rights defenders in the Uzbekistan;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Agzam Turgunov and all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

iii. Carry out an independent investigation on the above-mentioned allegations of ill-treatement and bring the authors to justice;

iv. Lift all travel bans against human rights defenders so as to ensure their legitimate right to defend human rights including at the international level;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, and 12.2;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uzbekistan.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 1395325. E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz
· Mr. Azizov Abdusalom Abdumavlanovich, Minister of Internal Affairs. Fax: + 998 71 233 89 34. Email: mvd@mvd.uz, info@mvd.uz
· Mr. Abdulaev Ikhtior Bakhtiorovich, General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 39 17. E-mail: prokuratura@lawyer.com
· Mr. Abdulaziz Komilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17. E-mail: rnews@mfa.uz
· Ms. Ulugbek Mukhammadiev, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. Fax: +998 71 139 85 55. E-mail: office@ombudsman.gov.uz
· Mr. Ulugbek Lapasov, Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva. Fax: +41 22 799 43 02. Email: uzbekistan@bluewin.ch
· H.E. Mr. Vladimir Norov, Ambassador, Embassy of Uzbekistan to Belgium. Fax. +32 2 672 39 46 Email: embassy@uzbekistan.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 6, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

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