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21.05.2000 | O.Panchenko, Kyiv

Medieval level of human rights

   

BARE FACTS

On 16 February a number of explosions sounded in Tashkent. As a result 13 were killed and 128 were heavily wounded. One of the explosions threatened the life of President of Uzbekistan Karimov. Such a crime is dealt with in Articles 155, 158 and 159 of the Penal Code of Uzbekistan and is punished by death.

On 15 March, one day after obtaining the sanction of the General Prosecutor of Uzbekistan, the four suspects were detained in Kyiv. They were Muhammedjan Begjanov (a brother of Sallih Begjanov, Dissident No.1 of Uzbekistan), Yusuf Razimuradov, Kobul Diyarov and Nimat.

After this President Karimov gave some comments in the local mass media. He said that the trial of the terrorists, who attempted to assassinate him, will be held in May. He again confirmed that his old implacable enemy Sallih Begjanov was involved in the crime. Sallih, the organizer of the practically demolished oppositional movement ’Erk’ now hides in Turkey. ’Now.,-as Islam Karimov said to the Uzbek channel of the BBC,-. the Interpol seeks for Sallih, and those, who are caught, will tell everything’.

The operation of capturing the Uzbek ’terrorists’ was carried out in utmost secrecy. Begjanov, Diyarov and Nimat were taken in the flat, when they counted the money earned by a day of trade at the market, since during four years they earned their living by selling goods at the market.

SECRET CAPTURE

Representatives of the law enforcing agencies were extremely secretive about the names of the detained and about all correspondent details. Only three days after their extradition (that happened on 18 March) the newspaper ’Den’ managed to get the official confirmation of the fact. The newspaper got accustomed to such treatment on the side of the law enforcing agencies, but the families of the detained were treated no better: their wives learned about the place, where the detained were kept, the conditions of upkeep, kind of accusation and, at last, about he fact of the extradition from mass media.

What became the reason of such secrecy? In vain we turned to the Ministry of Interior, General prosecutor’s Office, to the Ombudsperson.Together with the wives of the detained we went to the Uzbek Embassy: the Ambassador Akmal Hakimov hid from us. So what are these monsters and how they became so dangerous?

REASONS THAT DROVE REFUGEES TO UKRAINE

Nina Lonskaya, the wife of Muhammedjan Begjanov, told us the following: ’We lived in Uzbekistan up to 1994. After Election-91, when Karimov became the president, the party ’Erk’ (Freedom) founded by my brother-in-law Muhamad Sallih began to feel pressure.

At first the party newspaper, also titled ’Erk’, was prohibited. Then Muhamad Sallih was detained for three days. He was well-known in Uzbekistan as a politician and a publicist.

Besides, people knew him just as an honest and educated man. That was why he was elected to the Parliament. But he left the Parliament because he disagreed with the policy of the President. In a year he had to emigrate to Turkey. My husband still remained, and he and Yussuf tried to prolong the existence of the party’.

Nina Lonskaya told that their family was under close observation.’ Our children were tailed, a vagon permanently stood before our house, the telephone conversations were tapped. We sometimes wrote notes instead of speaking aloud. A year later my husband was accused of anti-state activities and had to emigrate to Turkey. I remained in Tashkent with two children and pregnant with the third. They often summoned me to the Ministry of interior. One day they came for me in three cars, told me to take passport and documents for the flat. It was already evening. They took me to the regional executive committee. The workers of this committee, who were leaving their jobs, crowded around, since they were told that I was a criminal. I was kept there for five hours. I was made to write, where my husband lived, how long I resided in Tashkent, and if I had obtained my flat legally. Then they took the documents for the flat and said that I had got it illegally. I objected, but they ensured me that they would always find some reasons to regard the documents as illegal. They kept my passport too. In several days they try to burst into my flat at four in the morning, but they could not break the metal door. I was afraid to open the door, because they could secretly put some drug or use some other trick to frame me, and I did not open the door until some acquaintances of mine, whom I called through telephone, came. The intruders made a thorough search of the flat and found nothing. When the surveillance weakened, I and my children slipped to Ukraine via Kazahstan to my parents, who reside in the Ukrainian town of Starobelsk. There my third daughter was born. Soon my husband joined us. In 1995-96 he published the newspaper ’Erk’ and conveyed it to Uzkistan.’

’ERK’ AND ’RUKH’

Members of ’Erk’ in exile were respected and supported by the Ukrainian ’Rukh’. The both movements were created almost simultaneously and the both were planned as movements of the intelligentsia for development of democracy. Yussuf, who worked as a part-time correspondent at the. Liberty. radio station, and Muhammedjan often attended meetings and congresses of. Rukh.. Muhamad Salih was a close personal friend of Viacheslav Chernovil, the head of the. Rukh.. At a meeting with the leader of. Rukh. Muhamad Salih said that he was going to put out his candidature at the next presidential election in Uzbekistan. He said that this was the reason why he had not changed his citizenship and even did not ask for a political asylum. Chernovil was worried when he heard that Muhamad Salih was blaimed with the terrorist act. The members of. Rukh found an advocate for the detained and wanted to initiate parliamentary discussion as to the legality of the detainment of Uzbek political figures in Ukraine. But the crisis in Kosovo left no time for this discussion. As a reporter of the newspaper. Den. has learned, Viacheslav Chornovil phoned to Muhamad Sallih. s family and promised to raise the question at the meeting of the PACE and at the meeting of the Committee of human rights within this organization. But in three days Chornovil perished in a road accident.

SOME DETAILS

. On 14 February, two days before the explosion, I and my children went to Tashkent... told Nins Lonskaya... My husband remained in Kyiv. Tell me, does it sound right that before the explosion a terrorist can direct his family to the place of the terrorist act? We knew nothing and went to our relatives to take some things, we had left. We learned about the explosions from TV. At first the Extreme Islamists were blamed. In a week the terrorists were found to belong to islamists and to. Erk.. Two village guys were shown on TV, who confessed that Sallih convinced them to go to Turkey and paid for their military training. This was all evidence. The authorities seemed not to know that we were in Uzbekistan otherwise they would arrest us. We hurriedly returned to Kyiv. My husband knew about the explosions, but calmly continued to sell at the market.. Shaira Razimuradova, told us some details about the detention.. They told me that my husband is suspected of the attempt at the assassination of President Karimov. Uzbek officers asked whether expensive things in our home, including a new computer, were bought for the money given by Muhammad Sallih. I answered that we honestly earned them by our work at the market..

THE LEGAL ANGLE

As we already have said, on 18 March the detained were secretly sent to Uzbekistan. Thus,

they were devoid of all rights rendered to them by Ukrainian and international laws. The detained had the right to lodge a complaint against the prosecutor. s sanction and against the prosecutor. s refusal to permit them meeting with their advocate. But the fastness of the procedure did not enable them to do it. The Convention on legal aid in civil, family and criminal cases among the countries of the CIS asserts that the request for extradition must be received within 40 days after the detention, otherwise the detained must be released. Thus, there exists an upper boundary of the incarceration. But the lower boundary does not exist. So there is an impediment to slow work of the judicial machine (which is the common rule) and there is no impediment against the too fast work (which is a rarity, but worked in the case of the Uzbek refugees).

The authorities assert that neither the detained nor their advocate complained on inhumane conditions of their detention and upkeep. That is not witnessed by any neutral third side. The behavior of the officials, who took part in the action, confirm the suspicion. According to the words of Shaira Razimuradova, their advocate turned to the Ministry of Interior, and he was answered that. they do not need an advocate.. A correspondent of the newspaper. Den. asked Sergey Luzanovsky, the detective involved, why advocates were not admitted. The answer was simple:. I am not interested in it.. Shaira Razimuradova told that in a fortnight after the detention the officials in the Ministry of Interior told her that the confiscated precious things from their home are. being checked., but another official showed her an IOU signed by Captain of Uzbek militia Turgunov of 18 March, testifying that all confiscated things were moved to Uzbekistan. Sergey Luzanovsky rudely refused to show the copy of the IOU:. I won. t give you anything. Go and talk with your Uzbeks..

There is another side of the question. Ukraine signed a number of International documents, according to which a country should not extradite suspects to another country where the capital punishment and torture are practiced. The European Court of Human Rights prohibited Hungary to extradite a citizen of the USA to his native country, because he could be executed there. The UNO Convention on Prohibition of torture set even more stringent restrictions. Article 3 of this document stipulates that a country-member must not extradite anybody to another country if there are serious grounds to believe that torture may threaten the extradited person. (Recall Karimov’s phrase that. those who are caught will tell everything. ).

Here are some more facts illustrating the level of observance of human rights in Uzbekistan.

On the suspicion of a connection with the terrorist act, simultaneously with Muhammadjan, another brother Kammil Begjanov was arrested. He is forty-five-year-old, father of five children, who all his life worked in a village of Horezm region. Another brother Rashid is incarcerated. Militia found in a sack of rice, which he brought to a market, a package of drug. The arrest strangely coincided with the escape of his brother Muhammad.

Another illegal novelty was that Ukrainian law enforcers often just accompanied their Uzbek colleagues, who did in the capital of Ukraine what they wanted. Here is an example of the brutal treatment of an ethnic Uzbek, but a Ukrainian citizen Kirgizbay Muminov by a joint Ukrainian. Uzbek team (the Ukrainian part was from Vatutinskiy precinct). Citizen Muminov told the following: ’. Two my nephews from Tashkent came to me with the purpose to enter institutes. They lived in my wife’s flat. On 17 March I with my wife went to visit them. We decided to return on foot, because after three heart strokes I move very little. We walked along Balzac street. Suddenly two cars braked near us, and six men in civil clothes jumped out. We were frightened, thinking that they were gangsters. The wife started crying:. Don. t beat him! He is after his third heart stroke!. They pushed me to a car and started to beat. I was all covered with blood. My wife was thrown to another car, and we were taken to Vatutinskiy precinct. They told me to keep hands up. In the precinct I saw my nephews. One was in handcuffs. They kicked him on the shins and enjoyed when he could not stand up. They took my key and went to make a search of my flat. Later we found that fur caps and tickets for a football match were missing. In the precinct we were interrogated by Uzbeks. Certainly nobody told their names. They asked me why I live in Ukraine, how many children I have, when I was last in Uzbekistan. I said to them that I had been living in Ukraine for 37 years. We all were shown photos of some Uzbeks, whom we never saw. They asked about the four Uzbeks who are to be deported and about other contacts with Uzbeks. We were photographed en face and in profile and released after two hours. After this reception we summoned motor ambulance three times..

Soon the victims turned to the prosecutor. s office of Vatutinskiy district with a complaint about the brutal treatment. The man who tried to render them juridical aid soon refused from his noble initiative, since he unexpectedly got many problems with the tax inspection (a very popular scenario). So there is no hope that the thugs from Vatutinskiy precinct will be punished or even mildly reprimanded.

A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT

According to Yuriy Murashov, the Chairman of the Ukrainian branch of. Helsinki-90., an extremely dangerous precedent is created in the country. In Ukraine thousands of political emigrants and refugees found shelter. They are from Uzbekistan, Belorus, Russia, Georgia, Chechnia, as well as from Afganistan and other countries of the Central Asia. The extradition of the four Uzbek refugees means for all other refugees that they have lost the confidence in their status. Everyone of them may be captured any time and given to torturers.

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