August 17, 2010

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

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

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 serious concern regarding the ongoing detention of Uzbek journalist Ulugbek Abdusalamov.

According to our information, Ulugbek Abdusalamov, a prominent member of the Uzbek community in the Jalal-Abad region and Chief Editor of the regional Uzbek newspaper Didor, was detained on June 14, 2010, on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” under Article 299 of the Kyrgyzstani Criminal Code. He was transferred to a detention center in Jalalabad two days later. The prosecutor’s office stated that they are investigating a violent incident at A. Batirov University in Jalal-Abad on May 19; however, Abdusalamov was working in Bishkek that day. Authorities also claim that they are holding him for two of his articles published in Didor.

There are mounting concerns for Abdusalamov’s well-being. In 2009 he had a cerebral hemorrhage, and he now suffers from high blood pressure, stomach ailments and a heart condition, and requires constant medical care. Abdusalamov had been transferred to a regional hospital on June 29, after six requests from his lawyer, but on July 9, he was returned to the detention center in Jalal-Abad. Abdusalamov’s health continued to deteriorate, and on July 24 he was taken back to the hospital, where he was treated under police guard. However, we have learned that he has since been transferred back to the detention center once again.

PEN American Center is extremely concerned that the detention of Ulugbek Abdusalamov is part of a targeted crackdown on the Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan, in which human rights defenders, journalists, and members of civil society have been harassed, detained, and ill-treated since June 10, 2010. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory, and urge authorities to allow human rights defenders, journalists, and other civil society activists to carry out their work without the threat of harassment or obstruction. We also remain concerned about reports that Abudsalamov is not being provided with adequate medical assistance while detained, and urge authorities to ensure that he receives any medical attention he may require.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula                      
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee            

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Mr. Arslan Anarbaev
Charge d’affaires
The Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S.
2360 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 386 7550

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