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09.12.2001 | Talib Yakubov, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan prepares to the visit of the US State Secretary

   

The US State Secretary will arrive in Tashkent on 17 April and will stay in Uzbekistan for three days (as the US embassy informed). On one of these days she will receive human rights protection activists. All these days in all Uzbek mass media certain topics became popular: they tell about prisons, colonies and zones. The mass media praise the conditions of upkeep. Several days ago a deputy Minister of Internal Affairs spoke on TV. He said: ‘People at home do not eat meat, and we feed prisoners with meat’. After this some people understood the paternal care of our authorities to simple folks: they are sent to prison for improving their diet.

Ombudsperson Ruz Sayera Rashidova has recently visited the Zhaslyk concentration camp, and now she gives numerous interviews that the camp is almost the paradise. It seems that she was shown the special prison, which the authorities organized in November before the elections after our publications on the Zhaslyk concentration camp (20 September). After this, according to the President’s order, several buildings situated near a military unit in 7 – 8 kilometers from Zhaslyk were quickly repaired and 250 incarcerated from the basic camp were transferred to the new place. The resettlers were given new clothes and three meals a day. The President ordered to organize visits of the relatives and parents. Sarikov, deputy head of the penitentiary directorate, sent about 250 telegrams, in which the relatives of the inmates of the new establishment were permitted to visit the convicts for 24 hours.

Our colleague Vasyla Inoyatova went on such a visit on 16 December and saw everything with her own eyes. Yet, few people know that on the plateau Ust-Yurt, where the new branch of the paradise is situated, the USSR army, as well as the Russian army, tested binary chemical weapons and three immense subterranean cavities were dug under army barracks. Sayera Rashidova either does not know about this or is forced to keep silence. Rather the latter supposition is right.

On 31 March the question of the conditions in penitentiaries was considered in the Commission on human rights of the Mazhlis (local parliament). We still do not know what was discussed in the Commission, since no reports have been published in mass media. If they took any decision, I think it was not in favor of the incarcerated. In any case, this attention to the lot of the imprisoned is a great victory of human rights protection movement in Uzbekistan. Previously neither Mazhlis nor its commissions ever considered the problem of the penitentiaries. At least, there have been no reports on it.

One of the questions that will be considered in the negotiations between the US State Secretary and I. Karimov will be, perhaps, the question of the penitentiaries, on possible visits of international experts from humanitarian organizations (such as the Red Cross). We have got information that in several concentration camps (Tavaksay, the ‘Red zone’ 64/49 in Karshi and some others) the repairs have started. Perhaps, the authorities will also wash down blood from the walls in the torture cells in the basement of the Ministry of Interior, the cells about which we have recently written.

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