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Uzbekistan: Medical concern / unfair trial / possible prisoner of conscience: Akhmadkhon Turakhanov

, Index number: EUR 62/004/1999

Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Akhmadkhon Turakhanov after he collapsed in court during his trial on 5 March 1999.

PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 62/04/99
EXTRA 34/99 Medical concern / Unfair trial/ Possible
prisoner of conscience 8 March 1999
UZBEKISTANAkhmadkhon Turakhanov, 59 years old, Islamic cleric
Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Akhmadkhon Turakhanov
after he collapsed in court towards the end of his trial on 5 March 1999.
He has diabetes and needs daily insulin injections but has reportedly not
received the necessary medical care he requires since being detained in December
1998.
Although he is now in the prison hospital it is still not clear whether he
is receiving this treatment as he is allowed no contact with his family or
lawyer.
Akhmadkhon Turakhanov was detained in December 1998 charged with attempting
to overthrow the constitutional order of Uzbekistan. According to unofficial
sources he was initially held in the medical wing of Namangan prison but was
moved to a basement cell after he refused to answer questions from the
investigating officers. His supporters believe that he was arrested for being
openly critical of the local authorities, as chairman of the banned opposition
movement Birlik (“Unity”) and a human rights activist. The judge presiding
at his trial, which started on 23 February in Namangan City Court, allegedly
stated that “criticizing presidential decrees is an anticonstitutional act”.
Amnesty International is concerned that, particularly in the present climate
of repression of political dissidents and members of independent Islamic
congregations, Akhmadkhon Turakhanov did not receive a fair trial. At his trial
he was apparently accused by the prosecution of being a “Wahhabist” (member
of a strict Islamic sect) and some witnesses were reportedly forced to sign
prepared statements incriminating him. In addition, his lawyer was reportedly
allowed no contact with him throughout the whole proceedings. On 5 March he
was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
Akhmadkhon Turakhanov was previously imprisoned for one-and-a-half years in
1994 after a sawn-off shotgun was discovered in his car. Amnesty International
considered him a possible prisoner of conscience amid allegations that the
criminal case against him was fabricated because of his political opposition
to the government. In May 1995 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
decided that the detention of Akhmadkhon Turakhanov was arbitrary.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Birlik was the first opposition party set up after the country’s independence in
1991. It advocated a secular democratic system and liberal economic reform. It was
officially registered as a movement in 1991 but was never allowed to register as
a political party. A clampdown on government opponents in 1992 led to scores of
opposition activists being detained on charges of calling for the state to be
overthrown, or prosecuted for slandering the President, or convicted on apparently
fabricated charges.
A recent clampdown on the perceived spread of “Wahhabism” led in 1998 to scores
of men being arrested and sentenced to long prison terms on charges of terrorism,
attempting to overthrow the constitutional order or seeking to establish an
Islamist state. Amnesty International believes that people may have been
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imprisoned solely for their alleged affiliation to independent Islamic
congregations.
After a series of bomb explosions shook the capital Tashkent on 16 February
1999 the president swiftly blamed “Islamic extremists” and others, including
the banned political opposition. Since then scores of known or suspected
opposition supporters, including former prisoners of conscience and possible
prisoners of conscience, and suspected members of independent Islamic
congregations, have been arbitrarily detained.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Russian or English or your own language:
- expressing grave concern at reports that Akhmadkhon Turakhanov’s health is
in a critical condition and that he has been denied medical care since his
detention and urging the authorities that he receive appropriate medical
attention immediately;
- urging the authorities to take immediate steps to initiate a review of his
sentence in the light of allegations that the charges were fabricated to punish
him for his political opposition;
- urging the authorities to ensure that he is granted access to his lawyer
and to his family.
APPEALS TO (several attempts may be necessary before obtaining a fax tone):
President of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganievich KARIMOV
700000 g. Tashkent, pr. Uzbekistansky, Rezidentsiya Prezidenta, Prezidentu
Karimovu I.A., UZBEKISTAN
Telegrams:Prezidentu Karimovu, 700000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Faxes:+ 998 71 139 5315
Salutation:Dear President Karimov
Chairman of the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, Ubaydulla MINGBAYEV
700183 g. Tashkent, ul. Abdulla Kodiri, 1, Verkhovny Sud Respubliki Uzbekistan,
Predsedatelyu Mingbayevu U., UZBEKISTAN
Telegrams: Predsedatelyu Mingbayevu, 700183 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Faxes:+ 998 71 141 0028
Salutation:Dear Chairman
Chairman of Namangan City Court, DZHURABOYEV
Namanganskaya Oblast, g. Namangan, Gorodskoy sud, predsedatelyu Dzhuraboyevu,
UZBEKISTAN
Telegrams: Predsedatelyu Dzhurabayevu, gorodskoy sud, Namangan, Uzbekistan
Salutation:Dear Chairman
COPIES TO:
The Oliy Majlis (Parliamentary) Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Sayora
Rashidova
700008 g. Tashkent, pl. Mustakillik, 2, Oliy Majlis Respubliki Uzbekistan
Upolnomochenoy po pravam cheloveka pri Oliy Majlis Rashidovoy S., UZBEKISTAN
Procurator General of Uzbekistan, Buritosh MUSTAFOYEV
700000 g. Tashkent, ul. Gogolya, 66, Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan
Generalnomu prokuroru Mustafoyevu B..
and to diplomatic representatives of Uzbekistan accredited to your country.
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PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 8 April 1999.

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