PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 62/017/2001
UA 285/01 Fear of torture / Fear for safety 7 November 2001
UZBEKISTANYusuf Dzhumaev (____ _______), poet
Uzbek poet Yusuf Dzhumaev, a member of the banned secular opposition movement
Birlik ("Unity"), was arrested on 23 October. He has reportedly been tortured,
while held in the basement of the National Security Service (SNB) detention
facility in the city of Bukhara.
Father of six Yusuf Dzhumaev was arrested by officers of the SNB’s Bukhara
regional branch at 7.30am. They searched his home and reportedly confiscated
his poems, his daughter’s poems and books by Uzbek writers. The SNB officers
apparently told him he was being arrested in connection with the publication
of his poems on a Muslim website that the authorities reportedly considered
to be subversive. Based on these allegations, Yusuf Dzhumaev is said to have
been charged with "undermining the constitutional order of the Republic of
Representatives of several independent human rights organizations in Uzbekistan
believe that he was arrested because he had openly criticized a number of
officials of the Karakul district of the Bukhara region, where he used to live,
and accused some of them of corruption. Local police and procuracy officials
had reportedly warned him not to "dig into other people’s affairs".
A number of people have died in custody in suspicious circumstances in Uzbekistan
over the past few years. Shovruk Ruzimuradov -- who headed Birlik in the southern
Kashkadarya region in the early 1990s and who was the regional head of the
non-governmental Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan -- died in custody earlier
this year, reportedly as a result of torture.
The Uzbek authorities have used a series of bomb explosions in February 1999
in the capital, Tashkent, and other violent incidents, to justify a clampdown
on individuals and groups they perceive as a threat to their authority and
the country’s stability. Those reported to have been arrested, and allegedly
ill-treated and tortured, have ranged from members and suspected supporters
of the banned secular political opposition parties and movements Erk and Birlik,
to alleged supporters of banned Islamic opposition movements or parties, such
as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, including members of their families, as well as independent
human rights monitors. Thousands of devout Muslims and dozens of members or
supporters of Erk and Birlik -- convicted after unfair trials of membership
of an illegal party, distribution of illegal religious literature and anti-state
activities -- are currently serving long prison sentences.
Birlik was Uzbekistan's first main opposition movement following independence
in 1991. Birlik was granted official registration as a movement in 1991; however,
it was denied registration as a political party. Following a clampdown against
government opponents in 1992, Birlik was effectively outlawed.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned that Uzbekistan may use the
"international fight against terrorism" as an opportunity to further clamp
down on the country’s internal opposition, with greater impunity than ever
before. Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan, is one of the main allies of
the US-led coalition in the region. At least 1,000 US ground troops are based
at the Khanabad military base in the south of the country.