PEN Welcomes Release of Uzbek Writer Dzamshid Karimov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York City, November 30, 2011—PEN American Center today welcomed news that Uzbek journalist and PEN Honorary Member Dzamshid Karimov, who had been detained in a psychiatric facility for five years for reporting on human rights abuses, was released earlier this month following a visit to Uzbekistan by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Dzamshid Karimov, a nephew of Uzbekistan’s repressive president Islam Karimov, was reportedly discharged from a psychiatric hospital in the city of Samarkand on November 6, 2011, after being held under successive detention orders. He was spotted in his hometown of Jizak during the recent Eid al-Adha celebrations. The release follows the Secretary of State’s visit to the country on October 22, 2011, and sustained advocacy by PEN and its members. On October 19, three days before her visit, PEN sent a letter urging Secretary Clinton to raise Dzamshid Karimov’s case with her counterparts, noting Uzbekistan’s well-documented human rights abuses and its need to respect its citizens’ essential freedoms as a “baseline requirement for full participation in the global community.”
“It is a great relief that Dzamshid Karimov is free,” said Larry Siems, director of PEN’s Freedom to Write and International programs. “His detention in a psychiatric hospital—so disturbingly reminiscent of the Soviet era—for the crime of reporting on Uzbekistan’s abysmal human rights record was a grim emblem of the Uzbek regime.”
“We are gratified by reports that the release was related to Secretary Clinton’s visit,” Siems continued, adding, “The U.S. must continue to press President Karimov to release all political prisoners including at least nine other writers still in prison in Uzbekistan.”
Karimov worked as a journalist for the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting until May 2005, when a massacre in the town of Andijan led to the closure of a number of media outlets and human rights organizations in Uzbekistan. Karimov then wrote for a number of other publications until he was disappeared on September 12, 2006. Two weeks later, friends discovered that he was being held in the psychiatric facility in Samarkand. The Institute of War and Peace Reporting published the first news of his release, and the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan subsequently reported that Karimov had suffered serious damage to his health due to the use of strong psychotropic drugs during his detention.
PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled. It defends writers and journalists from all over the world who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, or attacked in the course of carrying out their profession.
Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111