Open Letter to the authorities: Appalling health conditions of arbitrarily detained Uzbek human rights defenders

27/01/2010
Press release

Open Letter to Mr. Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov, President of Uzbekistan

Re: Appalling health conditions of arbitrarily detained Uzbek human rights defenders

Excellency,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expresses its deepest concern about the appalling health conditions of Messrs. Norboy Kholjigitov, over 60-year-old member of the Ishtikhan regional branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), and Khabibulla Okpulatov, member of the Ishtikhan regional branch of HRSU, both detained since June 4, 2005 in retaliation to their human right activities[1].

Messrs. Kholjigitov and Okpulatov have indeed been suffering a serious deterioration of their health due to the poor conditions of detention and the ill-treatments they have been subjected to in prison.

Mr. Kholjigitov, who suffers from diabetes, has seen a sharp deterioration of his health condition over the past months while detained at the Ou/Ia 64/49 colony in Karshi:
- in August 2009, first signs of incipient gangrene have appeared on his left leg and hand, as well as on his face,
- at the end of 2009, he has contracted bronchial asthma,
- he has lost all his teeth as a result of his health status.

On December 7, 2009, Mr. Kholjigitov had to be transferred to the hospital of the Ou/Ia 64/18 colony in Tashkent, located on Okhangrabo Street nr. 1, Kouylyuk area[2], and was sent back to the Karshi colony early January 2010.

The Observatory also received alarming information about Mr. Okpulatov’s health condition. In December 2009, it was reported that:
- his right leg had almost lost all of its sensitivity,
- both of his eyes were infected,
- he was weighting 55 kilos.

Mr. Okpulatov, who was detained in Navoi prison No. 64/29 since December 11, 2006, was reportedly transferred to an unknown location recently.

Messrs. Kholjigitov and Okpulatov are in a critical health condition, and require immediate release and transfer to adequate health facilities in order to receive all the appropriate medical care they need.

The Observatory urges your administration to disclose the whereabouts of Mr. Okpulatov, and to release the two above-mentioned defenders immediately and unconditionally, all the more that their detention is arbitrary as it conspicuously aims at sanctioning their human rights activities and seems to stem from a general strategy of dissuasion of all forms of dissent.

The Observatory further recalls that a number of human rights defenders remain arbitrarily detained because of their legitimate human rights activities, including:

- Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov, human rights activist and journalist
- Mr. Yusuf Juma, poet, writer and Head of the human rights organisation “Sahroiy Sherlar” (Lions of the Deserts)
- Mr. Alisher Karamatov, Head of the HRSU branch in the Mirzaabad district, recently transferred to an unknown location
- Mr. Agzam Turgunov, Executive Director and Founder of “Mazlum” human rights centre
- Mr. Abdurasul Hudoynazarov, Chairman of the Angren city branch of the "Ezgulik" human rights society, Tashkent region
- Mr. Nasim Isaqov, member of the Djizak regional branch of HRSU
- Mr. Jamshid Karimov, member of the Djizak regional branch of HRSU
- Mr. Mashrab Jumaev, member of human rights organisation “Sahroiy Sherlar” (Lions of the Deserts)
- Mr. Zafar Rahimov, member of the Kashkadarya regional branch of HRSU
- Mr. Yuldash Rasulev, member of the Kashkadarinskii regional branch of HRSU
- Mr. Dilmurod Sayidov, journalist and member of "Ezgulik" human rights society
- Mr. Farkhodkhon Mukhtorov, member of the human rights organisation “Alliance of the Human Rights Advocates of Uzbekistan”
- Mr. Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, member of the Committee for the Protection of Individual Rights as well as of the Independent Human Rights Society in Uzbekistan
- Mr. Gaybulla Jalilov, member of the HRSU Karshi regional branch and defender of the right to freedom of conscience in Uzbekistan, sentenced on January 18, 2010 to nine years’ imprisonment.

Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Uzbek authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all above-mentioned human rights defenders, and demands their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with international and regional human rights standards, in particular the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

We express our sincere hope that you will take these considerations and requests into account.

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr BELHASSEN FIDH President, Eric SOTTAS OMCT Secretary General

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