Press release

Uzbekistan: Freedom House Welcomes Release of Political Prisoners

A recently detained journalist and others should also be freed and rehabilitated.

In response to the August 27 release of four political prisoners in Uzbekistan, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Freedom House welcomes the release of political prisoners Rustam Abdumannopov, Iskandar Khudoiberganov, Akrom Malikov, and Rukhiddin Fakhriddinov,” said Sofya Orlosky, senior program manager for Europe and Eurasia at Freedom House. “This is a positive step by the government of Uzbekistan toward strengthening the respect for human rights, and we encourage the continuation of this trend. The government must release other prisoners who have been unfairly persecuted for exercising their freedom of expression or belief—including journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev—and fully clear their names by expunging their criminal records and providing resources for their smooth reintegration into society without prejudice. We urge the government of Uzbekistan to have open and transparent conversations with civil society about political prisoners and unjust convictions, as the scope of this issue is still widely unknown.”

Background: 

Uzbekistani political prisoners Rustam Abdumannopov, Iskandar Khudoiberganov, and Akrom Malikov were among 100 individuals released on August 27 through an official pardon by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Former imam Rukhiddin Fakhruddinov was also released that day after spending more than 15 years in prison for “anticonstitutional activities.” The moves have come in part due to increased pressure from US officials calling for the release of political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

However, journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev was detained in Kyrgyzstan and deported to Uzbekistan earlier this month to face criminal charges of attempting to overthrow the president and the constitutional regime, despite the international community’s concern that Abdullayev would likely face ill-treatment upon his return. Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations, activists, and democratic governments have called for Abdullayev’s release and for the case against him to be dropped.

Uzbekistan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020 and Freedom on the Net 2019, and it is categorized as a Consolidated Authoritarian Regime in Nations in Transit 2020.