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12 thousand political prisoners jailed in Uzbekistan -- HRW.

Human rights activists, journalists, and others imprisoned by the Uzbek government on politically motivated charges suffer torture and abysmal prison conditions. The prisoners' sentences are often extended arbitrarily for years. Uzbekistan has one of the world's worst human rights records and has unlawfully imprisoned thousands of people for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on September 26.

The 121-page report, "'Until the Very End': Politically Motivated Imprisonment in Uzbekistan," presents disturbing new findings about the treatment of 34 of Uzbekistan's most prominent people imprisoned on politically motivated charges. They include two of the world's longest imprisoned journalists and others who have languished behind bars for more than two decades. Based on more than 150 in-depth interviews, including with 10 recently released prisoners, and analysis of newly obtained court documents, the report extensively documents the plight of many wrongfully imprisoned activists.

"The Uzbek government tries to hide the abuses its critics suffer in prison, even their very existence, from the world," said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. "This new evidence means Tashkent can no longer pretend that politically motivated imprisonment in Uzbekistan does not exist."

Uzbekistan should immediately and unconditionally release everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges, stop arbitrarily extending prison sentences, and put a stop to torture in prison, Human Rights Watch said.

The prisoners Human Rights Watch profiled include some of Uzbekistan's most talented and remarkable figures; uncovering corruption, seeking democratic reform, or leading innovations in the arts, culture, or religion and philosophy. Some were imprisoned for no other identified reason than that the government considered them "enemies of the state." The government has used overly broad and ill-defined charges of "anti-constitutional activity" and "religious extremism" to imprison many of them. Others were sentenced on fabricated charges of bribery, fraud, or extortion.

At least 29 of the 34 current prisoners whose cases Human Rights Watch documented have made credible allegations of torture or ill-treatment. They have been beaten with rubber truncheons or plastic bottles filled with water and tortured with electric shock, hanging by wrists and ankles, threats of rape and sexual humiliation, asphyxiation with plastic bags and gas masks, threats of physical harm to relatives, and denial of food or water.

"The US, EU, and other key governments know all about President Islam Karimov's use of prison and abuse to stamp out independent journalism, human rights monitoring, and political and religious freedom," Swerdlow said. "Uzbekistan's international partners need to tell President Karimov that there will be a serious price to pay unless his government stops imprisoning and torturing peaceful activists, journalists, and religious believers."

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Publication:AKIpress News Agency
Geographic Code:9UZBE
Date:Sep 26, 2014
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