Gulbahor Turayeva, Human Rights Defender

Re: Gulbahor Turayeva, Human Rights Defender

To: Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov, President of Uzbekistan; Sayora Rashidova, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights

From: Russell C. MacKay, LRWC

Date: 2007-01-12

I am writing, as a member of LRWC, in response to information obtained from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders indicating that Ms. Gulbahor Turayeva, a forensic expert and human rights activist from Andijan has been subjected to apparently illegal arrest and mistreatment.

In particular, I am informed of the following occurrences:

1. On January 14th, 2007, Ms. Turayeva was returning home to Uzbekistan from a day trip to the Kyrgyz city of Osh. She was with her son. Her belongings were searched by Uzbek border guards and several books were confiscated from her on the basis that they were banned in Uzbekistan. She was arrested at that point;
2. Immediately after Ms. Turayeva was arrested her apartment was searched. No relevant material was found;
3. On January 16th, 2007, Ms. Turayeva was brought to an office of the National Security Service for Uzbekistan and subjected to interrogation and a “more thorough investigation”. I am informed she is still in the custody of the National Security Service in Andijan and has been charged with “attempting to overthrow Uzbekistan’s constitutional system”. We have no other information about her current status.

Under the circumstances, we are very concerned that Ms. Turayeva’s detention has no legal merit. We are extremely concerned for her physical and psychological well-being.

We respectfully ask for guarantees from you to take all actions necessary to ensure that:

i. Ms. Turayeva’s life, well-being and psychological integrity is, and will continue to be, protected;
ii. All necessary steps are being taken to either release Ms. Turayeva unconditionally or properly make known the basis on which her continued detention is justified by law;
iii. All acts of harassment of Ms. Turayeva and others involved in the defence of human rights in Uzbekistan cease immediately.

Uzbekistan has a responsibility to adopt these measures to guarantee the life and physical safety of Ms. Turayeva. This duty arises from Uzbekistan’s membership in the United Nations (UN). I draw your attention in particular to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9th, 1998. Article 1 of the Declaration states:

“Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.”

Article 12.2 of the Declaration states:

“The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Apart form the above-mentioned Declaration, Uzbekistan has a duty to ensure, in all circumstances, that human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with internationally accepted standards and also with instruments ratified by Uzbekistan, are afforded to all individuals and associations in Uzbekistan.

The arrest, harassment and continued detention of Ms. Turayeva cannot be seen as anything other than a violation of Ms Turayeva’s rights and an alarming signal of very serious deterioration of the rule of law in Uzbekistan under the current regime.

Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of the actions that the government of Uzbekistan is taking to remedy this alarming situation.

LRWC awaits your response. Thank you for your prompt attention to our concerns.