October 26, 2010

Minister of Internal Affairs
Kubatbek Baibolov
Frunze Street, 469
Bishkek 720040
Fax: +996 312 68 20 44

General Prosecutor

Baitemir Ibraev
72, Orozbekova Street
Bishkek 720040
Fax: +996 312 66 54 11

President of the Kyrgyz Republic
Roza Otunbaeva
Dom Pravitelstva
Bishek 720003
Fax: + 996 312 62 50 12

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the news that Uzbek journalist Ulugbek Abdusalamov has suffered a serious stroke while detained at a hospital.

According to our information, Abdusalamov, chief editor of the independent Uzbek newspaper Diydor, has been in poor health for some time, and suffers from high blood pressure, stomach ailments, and a heart condition, all of which require constant medical attention. In 2009 Abdusalamov suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. On September 22, 2010, he suffered a stroke which, according to reports, left him paralyzed on one side of his body, and unable to speak. Reports also indicate that the hospital where Abdusalamov is currently being held in Jalal-Abad is inadequately equipped to treat him effectively.

Abdusalamov has been detained since June 14, 2010, on dubious charges relating to his writings. International human rights groups maintain that he is being held in retaliation for his critical reporting on human rights abuses in southern Kyrgyzstan. His trial was scheduled to begin on September 22, but has been postponed following his stroke. It is expected that the trial will continue once his health improves.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned about the news that Ulugbek Abdusalamov suffered a major stroke while detained at a hospital. We therefore call for his immediate transfer to another hospital in Bishkek, where he can receive adequate medical attention. We believe Abdusalamov is being held solely for expressing his critical views as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory. We therefore call for Abdusalamov’s unconditional release pending a fair trial, and for the Kyrgyz government to honor their commitments and allow journalists to carry out their work without fear of harassment or obstruction by authorities.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee                 

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Mr. Arslan Anarbaev
Charge d’affaires
Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United States
2360 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 386-7550

>> Back to Rapid Action