Uzbekistan: Activist from Buvajda blackmailed by authorities

Sunday 19 October 2014

Date: 10 October 2014


Type: News

Keywords: Uzbekistan cotton fields

The Uzbek authorities are threatening Negmatjon Siddikov’s imprisoned son Sadyr should the activist refuse to disassociate himself with Elena Urlaeva, the head of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (PAU).

The activist from the Fergana Valley’s city of Buvajda visited his son Sadyr in prison colony number 64/61 last week and came back crestfallen.

“Sadyr was explicitly told that he would never be freed unless I stop writing complaints,” says Siddikov.

The activist himself has been warned multiple times by Buvajda law enforcement that he should disassociate himself with PAU’s leader Elena Urlaeva. Urlaeva, say the Buvajda authorities, is the Russia’s CIA agent (CIA, naturally, is the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States, and is, hence, not connected to Russia), and all of Siddikov’s troubles are due to her.

Urlaeva to blame for the tragedy of an entire family?

The tragic events in Siddikov’s family did indeed take place right after Urlaeva distributed the Buvajda activist’s investigative report in February 2013 on Fergana Valley’s smugglers across the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

Siddikov says that the authorities started looking into the group operating on the border immediately after his report was published. A mere three days later he was visited at home by a group of eight individuals who lost their jobs as a result of his report and threatened, “to burn down his house and kill his entire family”.

Their words were not empty threats. The following day about 100 people came back in 17 cars, including in mini-vans, and started smashing Siddikov’s house and beating his family members. Their neighbors, who sent out a cry for help and got close to 500 villagers to help out, saved the family. Eventually the assailants were forced to retreat.

Siddikov and his sons managed to detain the leader of the criminal group, former police officer Bahodyr Fazilov, who fell during the massive fight and hit his head.

Siddikov and his three sons were accused of inflicting serious bodily injury. Nadyr and Kadyr were given five year suspended sentence by Fergana city court on May 22, 2013. Sadyr was sentenced to six years.

The activist himself was sentenced to six years for slander but was amnestied on December 31, 2013.

Siddikov does not see any blame in Urlaeva’s actions.

“Before I turned to her I had sent two letters to Islam Karimov about the gang of smugglers but had not heard anything back from anyone,” says the activist.

Upon his release Siddikov chose to speak out about the situation in the country’s prisons and published some accusatory material online against the National Security Services. The retribution for his actions came swiftly.

Siddikov’s son was supposed to have been released this May, also on amnesty, but was given six months extension one day before his scheduled release. Three months for dirty clothes and another three for not writing his name on his prison badge clearly enough.

The activist says that he got involved in exposing the band of smugglers on the border because of many deaths at the hands of the border officials. Border guards would sometimes shoot those who refused to give bribes as a lesson for others. Furthermore, sometimes the locals who live near the border would be caught and killed in cross fire.

After Urlaeva distributed Siddikov’s report the border was fortified and there have not been that many casualties since then. ###

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