Hundreds of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants are being forcibly returned from Russia to Uzbekistan, and brutally tortured.
Dozens of those who seek refuge in Russia have been abducted by Russian security officers, forcing them into cars in broad daylight, hooding them, and colluding with Uzbekistani security agents to return those who once sought refuge.
In Uzbekistan torture is rife. Those who are returned have their teeth kicked in, their ribs broken, and are beaten into confessions. Their words are used to convict them.
They kicked in almost all his teeth… He only has tiny splinters sticking out from his gums.Relative of a torture survivor
A young father’s abduction and torture
Mirsobir Khamidkariev, a young film producer, was seeking asylum in Russia when he was abducted in broad daylight and sent back to Uzbekistan. There, he was tortured.
On a warm summer’s evening two years ago, 35-year-old Uzbekistani film producer Mirsobir Khamidkariev was sitting in a taxi outside a pharmacy in Moscow. He was waiting for his wife to pick up some medication for their seven-month-old son.
Suddenly two men got into Mirsobir’s taxi and forced the driver to speed away.
When the taxi eventually stopped, these men – Russian security agents – took Mirsobir to a basement, put a bag over his head and beat him for the rest of the day. The next day, they took him to the airport where Uzbekistani security agents were waiting for him on the tarmac. Mirsobir was flown back to Uzbekistan, where he was tortured.
In Uzbekistan, security forces tortured Mirsobir for the next two months. They beat him – knocking out his teeth and breaking his ribs – until he gave a ‘confession’ which was used to incriminate him.
This ‘confession’ led to an eight-year prison sentence on “anti-state” charges and Mirsobir was sent to a remote prison camp, where he remains today. He has never been given the opportunity to challenge his abduction.
Mirsobir’s trial was unfair, and since his torture he’s been denied access to medical attention he needs. The Russian authorities have failed to conduct any effective investigation into his abduction. And he’s not the only asylum seeker from Uzbekistan who’s been abducted in Russia and sent back to harm at the hands of the Uzbekistani authorities – there are dozens more like him.
“My son Erkin was a good listener and was sympathetic.”
“He did his best to help his loved ones, his family, friends and colleagues. He was educated, professional and hard-working. He disliked sycophancy and was forthright and honest, and because of this sometimes he fell out of favour with his superiors. But when they heard what had happened to him, people were truly shocked.”
In 2006, Erkin Musaev was arrested as he was boarding a flight to Kyrgyzstan, where he was planning to attend a conference as part of his work with the UN Development Programme. He maintains that a file containing sensitive information had been planted in his luggage.
No justice for families
After arrest, Erkin held for several weeks without contact with the outside world. His family had no idea where he was or whether he was even alive. It would be four more months until they would see him again. His father, 81 year old Geology teacher Aidzhan Musaev, describes what happened.
“While we had been searching for Erkin, he was being brutally tortured. For a month, he was beaten daily, and interrogated nightly. He was told that his family had denounced him. He was forced to sign a confession to spying.”
“Words cannot express what we felt at the time. It was grief, frustration, incomprehension, pain. And after we found out what had really happened to him, we felt even more frustrated and wanted justice.”
By someone’s design, nine precious years of my son’s life have been stolen. It is my duty as a father to defend my wrongly accused son and stand up for justice.Aidzhan Musaev, Erkin’s father
Today, Erkin remains in prison, his health rapidly deteriorating. “After nine years in prison, there’s no doubt that he has changed spiritually. The torture and psychological pressure have aged him and he needs serious medical attention. In prison, at best he gets aspirin. Usually he is just ignored.”
WHY IS THE WORLD SILENT?
No one has been brought here and found innocent and released. Everyone who is brought here is found guilty. They have to plead guilty.Security official to a former detainee