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Freedom House Calls Upon the Government of Uzbekistan to Release its Jailed Activists
As the opportunity for a year-end amnesty approaches, Freedom House calls upon the government of Uzbekistan to unconditionally release political prisoners and human rights defenders.
Freedom House estimates there are at least 15 activists serving three- to twelve-year prison terms in Uzbekistan. Most recently, in December of 2009, the government sentenced Ganihon Mamathanov, an activist who worked to eradicate forced child labor in the country, to five years in prison on what many experts believe to be trumped up charges.
“Freedom House is deeply troubled by an intensified crackdown on human rights defenders in Uzbekistan,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director at Freedom House. “Although we welcome the Uzbek government’s release last month of Sanjar Umarov, the leader of an opposition party, we remain profoundly concerned about the fate of the many who remain in custody.”
Freedom House’s research indicates that Uzbekistan has not made any credible efforts to reverse its brutal and sustained repression of civil society. In 2009 alone, the Uzbek government arrested and convicted at least four human rights activists and political dissidents and released only one.
“In his Constitution Day address, President Karimov said Uzbekistan is committed to developing democracy and a vibrant civil society in the country,” said Sam Patten, Senior Program Manager for Eurasia at Freedom House. “We call upon the government of Uzbekistan to demonstrate this commitment and release the jailed activists. The recent release of Mr. Umarov was the first step in the right direction. We hope the government of Uzbekistan will take the opportunity to make further steps to alleviate the plight of the jailed human rights defenders and their loved ones.”
Uzbekistan is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom of the Press. In 2009, Freedom House included Uzbekistan in its list of the most repressive regimes, along with North Korea, Burma and Turkmenistan.
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Uzbekistan since 1990.
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