Asylum seeker from Uzbekistan being held in a Russian remand prison reminds Putin of universal values
Mukhammedsolykh Abutov is a citizen of Uzbekistan who is presently being held by the Russian authorities following a request from the Uzbek authorities for his extradition.
The charges against him are of a religious nature. Mukhammedsolykh has already spent almost ten years in labour camps. He is seeking refugee status in Russia and his forced deportation would subject him to torture and possible death. It would also be in violation of Russian Federation law and Russias international commitments.
We pass on a letter from Mukhammedsolykh to President Putin.
It is an impassioned call for Mr Putin to consider, when speaking of victims of Stalins repression or of discrimination in the Baltic States against Russian speakers, the terrible repression in Islam Karimovs Uzbekistan and whether Russia should be helping such a dictator.
It is also a call to show justice to his country people, many of whom are forced to live as virtual slaves, with no rights in Russia in order to help their families back home survive.
And it is a humble appeal to intercede for him.
Mukhammedsolykh has suffered persecution already. He is seeking asylum in Russia. He must not be sent back to his torturers.
Mukhammedsolykh Abutov writes in his letter that he is not sure if the President will receive the letter. We are also not sure.
PLEASE help us by using your media contacts to ensure that this letter comes to the Presidents attention, and to the attention of all who can prevent a grave injustice from being committed.
An open letter to the President of the Russian Federation
From citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan, held n SIZO [remand centre] 50/0 Mukhammadsolykh Abutov
I am writing to you for the second time since I have had no response to my first letter sent back in summer.
The reason for this letter is your speech dedicated to the victims of Stalins repression which was shown on NTV on 30 October. Together with Patriarch Aleksiy II, you said something like: “The scale of the numbers of victims of this repression is colossal. And it was always like that in Rus. And there were priests persecuted for their religious beliefs”, and so on.
It is laudable that a former chekist should acknowledge the mistakes of his former colleagues and comrades. Your speech during a visit to a session of the European Commission in Portugal was also commendable when you spoke about people in the Baltic Republics facing humiliation and insults from the local authorities. That means that you defend the rights of Russians wherever they are violated!
However, Mr President, do you defend the rights of a person whoever he is and wherever? If so, then why, when you are well aware that the Karimov regime is no different from that of Stalin, do you for geopolitical reasons maintain all kinds of friendly relations with it? When you know that he persecutes all dissidents and imprisons people, accusing them of belonging to this or that, in fact non-existent, terrorist organizations, and does not observe any human rights, why do you collaborate with him?
After the Andijon events of 2005, when relations worsened with the United States and the European Union, he came running to you, fearing vengeance from enemies. He doesnt have a firm position neither with regard to Russia, nor to the USA. Hes already demonstrated that during his 20-year rule.
Im not telling you anything you dont know when I say that the people shot at on the square in Andijon were not terrorists or extremists. And we dont even have such an organization! All of those accused of being involved in extremist organizations are there because of trumped up charges from the security service. Its a pretext for repression, for crushing dissent among the people! Those who are in prison – thousands and thousands of people were not terrorists, and couldnt have been! Our people are simply unhappy with the leaders of the republic. The disgruntlement is of a social nature, nothing else. The people are poor and hungry!
Surely you know that millions of people from our republic go to Kazakhstan or Russia to earn money. Thats because there are more than 25 million people in our country and 75% live in rural areas. Except for big cities, there are no factories, nothing. Every year, I believe, around a million people finish school, yet theres nowhere for them to go after that! People in rural areas live mainly on what they grow. This is not hearsay. I lived like that myself, like everybody. There isnt even gas, or electricity, we live like peasants in the Middle Ages.
Those who can go to Russia – yes, their position there is worse than that of slaves like all nations at some stage had. You defend the rights of Russian-speaking people living in the Baltic States. Yet they probably live better than our people in their own country. And those who have come to Russia – look at their position! They become the victims of persecution from all sides, from the law enforcement agencies and from all other. They suffer at the hands of skinheads who have the support of some deputies in the State Duma. And theyre often killed. They live mainly in basements like down-and-outs. They have no legal status or proper labour conditions.
Theyre persecuted by the law enforcement agencies and are released only if they pay a bribe. Theyre also persecuted by people from the Russian Federation Migration Service and deported to their country with a stamp in their passport prohibiting them to enter Russia for five years. There are also various crooks who offer them registration and a work permit which prove to be fakes. Yet these crooks have their own firms and offices and advertise their services in the newspapers. Yet if theyre illegal, why are they so free in their activities, which lead to people from our country suffering. A lot of construction companies also take people on without any legal right to employ people and force them to live and work illegally. It often happens that as a result they dont receive the money theyve earned, and they cant complain anywhere, and prove whats happened.
The situation is very bad for my country people. They clean the streets of the capital and do all the dirty work that no Muscovite will take on for any money. Yet they live in constant degradation and fear. They cant complain, they dont know their rights and many dont even know Russian. They have to come since their families back home need the money to live on.
Our embassy or some organizations defending human rights are not in a hurry to defend the rights of our citizens working in Russia. Not to mention President Islam Karimov, hes got no time to waste on such trivia as the rights of his citizens!
Yet you surely know all this? You know the position of our people. You also know Karimov, that he is just as much of a dictator as those previous ones. If there is nobody to defend the rights of our people, Uzbekistan nationals in Russia, then be kinder and more just, Mr President! Defend them at least on the basis of universal values, even if they arent Slavs and arent Russian! Improve however you can their working conditions and other legal procedures. After all Russian firms are interested in bringing them to Russia because theyll work for peanuts and Russians will get rich at their expense! I could cite specific examples which I saw myself in Russia from 20 February 2007 until my arrest on 30 June. But I think there are already tens and hundreds of thousands of facts which you are aware of!
I would like to draw your attention to my present position. I wrote in my first letter that I had been detained here by officers of the Uzbekistan Security Service and taken to the police station in Krasnogorsk. Half a year has passed since then and I am still in custody. I am accused on involvement in an extremist terrorist organization. Thats the most common article in Uzbekistan – Article 159 of the Criminal Code. I am awaiting a decision from the RF Migration Service on my application for refugee status in the Russian Federation. I am after all a victim of the dictators regime and I was held for almost 10 years in various labour camps in Uzbekistan. I am being persecuted by the Uzbekistan Security Service for my religious convictions. As was the case with my forebears persecuted during Stalins repressions. They were also Islamic scholars.
It is now the twenty first century. And all peoples of the world, the main nations living on the territory of the former Soviet Union condemn Stalins regime. And you in your turn blame him for killing innocent people only for their beliefs. Judging by your short television interview I understood that in your views you are against dictatorship?
Yet how then can we understand the facts which run counter to your principles? I mean the facts that the Russian authorities have handed over a number of people who were in the Russian Federation into the hands of Uzbekistan enforcement officers on trumped up charges of being involved in this or that extremist organization? By doing this you are helping the dictator destroy innocent people!
As I understand you are not a supporter of dictatorship. I am turning to you since I am precisely in this position. And if I am returned to Uzbekistan I face a trumped up case and many more years of imprisonment, or simply an agonizing death.
I have written about this to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General, to the Migration Service and other organizations. It is interesting that I have not received one response. Nor from you! So I decided to write once again, although there is little hope that my appeals reach you. Yet maybe they do. As the popular saying goes, hope dies last.
I hope that you will not ignore my letter. Like any believer, I trust in the Almighty Allah, ask Him for help. However, on the basis of my religious beliefs, I also call upon people to do good and on leaders to be just!
This is what is demanded of us by our religion. As our Prophet, may Allah bless him and the world be with him, most pious is he who was able to speak the truth before leaders, regardless of the consequences. I acted as I considered was right. Whatever the consequences for me, that is Allahs will. Like all believers, I am ready to face any consequences with dignity, as befits a Muslim.