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Uzbekistan: On the Situation of 8 Participants in an Action of Solidarity with Free Ukraine

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Participants in an action which took place in January are to face a judge 4 April 2014. If they fail to appear, they face an additional fine.
 
On 27 January 2014 in Tashkent, 7 citizens of Uzbekistan and one citizen of Ukraine submitted a petition to the Ukrainian Embassy in Tashkent (the text is attached, in Ukrainian). They photographed themselves with the flag of Ukraine at the embassy. Then they drove to the Taras Shevchenko monument, where they photographed themselves with the flags of Ukraine and Georgia. After this, they passed through the mahalla to the Khazrati (Khast) Muslim complex and photographed themselves there.
 
Later, these photographs appeared on the sites of many independent Internet publications and were perceived as a show of solidarity with participants in the action “For a Free Ukraine” on EuroMaidan in Kiev – in support of those protesting and advocating for the integration of Ukraine with the Europe Union.
  
Three days later, it turned out that the Uzbek authorities had declared the action by the 8 participants an “organization of an unauthorized rally and picket” and punished them with a fine and administrative arrest. The terms “rally,” “picket,” “street procession” and “demonstration” are not defined in the national legislation of Uzbekistan.
  
On 29 January 2014, at about 20:00, Shukhrat Nurmukhamedov, a police precinct inspector and four officers of the Main Department of Internal Affairs of the city of Tashkent came to the home of Umida Akhmedova, a photo artist and documentary film-maker. They did not introduce themselves. They took away Umida Akhmedova and her son, the photo artist Timur Karpov, for a “chat.” They did not explain the reason for their detention, and did not show any papers justifying the detention. The policemen wrote out the summons to the police department only after being asked to do so by the detainees.
  
The same occurred with all the other participants in the action.
  • Information about the participants in the photographic session:
1. Timur Karpov, born 23 January 1990 in Tashkent. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Studied at Tashkent Theatre Institute in the film-making department, left after one year. One-man show at the Ilkhom Theater in 2009. Took part in group exhibits in St. Petersburg in 2008, in Uglich in 2013 and in Minsk in 2013. On 25 January 2014 at the House of Photography in Tashkent at the initiative of the Neformat Photo Club, a photo exhibit opened titled “One Space.” Among the participants was Timur Karpov. He presented photographs from the cycle “Abandoned Cities.” His work was banned from the show two hours before the exhibit due to the wishes of two directors of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan – Akmal Nur, chairman, and his deputy, Ravshan Mirtadzhiev. The decision about the censoring of free art provoked a conflict.
  
Under administrative arrest from 29 to 30 January 2014. By order of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases, on 30 January, under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability (Violation of the procedure of organizations for conducting assemblies, rallies, street processions or demonstrations), was sentenced to a fine of 5,766,300 soms, which at the official rate is US $2,597. At the trial, an amount twice as less as what was indicated in the decree was announced.
 
2. Umida Ahmedova, born 21 October 1955 in Parkent. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Photo artist and documentary film-maker. Graduated from cultural and education academy in Vladimir (photo and film-making department) and in 1986 from the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). Author of documentary films, “Burden of Virginity,” “Women and Men in Rites and Rituals,” and the photo album “Women and Men from Dusk to Dawn,” for which she was sentenced in February 2010 on charges of “insult” and “libel.” The court did not specify a punishment, since immediately after being sentenced, she was amnestied. (The Supreme Court of Uzbekistan has yet to review her appeal to date.)
      
Under administrative arrest from 29 to 30 January 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases on 30 January under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability was fined 2,402,625 soms (US $1,082). (This amount was announced in court, but Ahmedova did  not receive the decree. It is possible that it contains the amount US $2,597.)
 
3. Alexei Ulko was born on 26 February 1969 in Samarkand. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Lives in Tashkent. Education: Uzbek State University of World Languages (Tashkent) and College of St Mark and St John (Plymouth, Great Britain). Teaches English at the British Council in Tashkent.
  
Under administrative arrest from 29 January through 14 February 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases on 30 January under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability, was arrested for 15 days, and served the term in full.
  
4. Ashot Dannelyan, born 6 November 1983, in Tashkent. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Lives in Tashkent. Leader of the rock group Wings of Origami.
 
Under administrative arrest from 29 January to 8 February 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases, on 30 January, under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability, was arrested for 15 days, and released after 8 days.
  
5. Gulsum Osmanova, born in Baku. Lives in Tashkent. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Not subjected to administrative punishment, does not figure in the court decree.
  
6. Ilgar Gasymov. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Permanent resident of Tashkent. Member of the rock group Wings of Origami.
 
Under administrative arrest from 29 to 30 January 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases, on 30 January under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability was fined 5,766,300 soms ($2,597). At the trial, the amount announced was twice as less as that indicated in the decree.
 
7. Artem Lyudny, born in Kiev. Citizen of Ukraine. Permanent resident of Tashkent. Worked in an advertising company. Studied sociology at International Solomon University.
 
Under administrative arrest from 29 January through 5 February 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases, on 30 January under Art. 201 of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability, was arrested for 15 days, and released after 8 days.
 
8. D.B. (At the request of the petitioner, I am not indicating his name). Citizen of Uzbekistan. Permanent resident of Tashkent.
 
Under administrative arrest from 29 through 30 January 2014. By decree of the Khamzin Court for Criminal Cases, on 30 January under Art. 201 Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Administrative Liability, was fined 4,805,250 sums ($2,165). At the trial, the amount announced was twice as less as what was indicated in the decree.
 
On 17 February 2014, Bakhritdinova filed an appeal to the city court. There is no official notice yet of the date of the trial and its decision.
 
The participants in the action were sent court summons. They stated that on 4 April 2014 they must appear before the judicial executor A.A. Tilavov. In the event they fail to appear without a valid reason, a fine of 961,050 sums will be imposed on them in accordance with Art. 198 (Non-fulfilment of the lawful demands or obstruction of the fulfillment of official duties of a representative of the government) of the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Administrative Liability and Art. 82 (Liability for non-fulfillment of an executive document and obstruction of its executor) of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan (“On the execution of judicial acts and other bodies). The decision of the court regarding the participants in the action went into force on 17 February 2014, but none of them have received an official notice of this yet.
  • System
As has been proven by practice, in Uzbekistan, administrative punishment becomes a formal basis for restricting the rights of the active part of the population. They are arrested for a period of up to 15 days; the amount of the fine can exceed activists’ annual salary. Often, criminal prosecution will follow administrative punishment. Human rights defender Fakhriddin Tillayev has found himself in this situation. In September 2013, he was arrested for 15 days and fined, and then sentenced to imprisonment for more than 8 years.
 
The situation of Sergei Naumov, a freelance correspondent for the online publication Fergana.ru is also alarming. The city court in Urgench issued a decision on 21 September 2013 at an open court session regarding actions he had supposedly committed, characterized as “petty hooliganism and violation of public order” (Art. 183 of the Administrative Code of Uzbekistan). Sergei Naumov spent 12 days of arrest in inhumane conditions. His attempts to appeal the court decree were unsuccessful due to pressure placed on his attorney and Naumov himself. From several indications, at the present time the interest on the part of government agencies in him is growing, which is leading to a restriction of his rights and mean that conditions may exist for a new provocation.
 
Association for Human Rights in Central Asia believes that regarding the participants in the public action “For Free Ukraine,” the following are violated:
                
Constitution of Uzbekistan, in particular:
- Art. 29 – “Every citizen has the right to freely express his opinion”;
- Art. 33 – “Citizens have the right to exercise their civic activity in the form of rallies, assemblies and demonstrations in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”
  
  International Covent on Civil and Political Rights, in particular:
- Art. 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- Art. 21
1. The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized
  
Association for Human Rights in Central Asia has sent the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, the European Union special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and the European Union Special Rapporteur on Central Asia, international human rights organizations and diplomats of democratic countries a statement on the non-observance of obligations under international human rights agreements.