PEN International welcomes the news that dissident journalist Dzamshid Karimov was reportedly released on November 6, 2011, following five years’ detention in a psychiatric facility. However, PEN remains highly concerned over reports that Karimov’s health may have suffered due to the forced administration of psychotropic medicines. PEN is also concerned that a number of other writers and journalists remain in long-term detention in Uzbekistan. PEN calls on the Uzbek authorities to live up to their commitments to protect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Background Information

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) reported that Dzamshid Karimov, nephew of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, had been discharged on November 6, 2011, from a psychiatric hospital in the capital Samarkand, where he had been detained since September 2006. The journalist was spotted in his hometown of Jizak on November 6, 2011, during the recent Eid al-Adha celebrations.  It is claimed that his release was prompted by the recent visit to Uzbekistan of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on October 22, 2011.

It was reported by the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan that Karimov had suffered serious damage to his health due to the use of strong psychotropic drugs while detained.

Karimov (44) worked as a journalist for the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) until May 2005, and subsequently for a number of other publications. He disappeared on September 12, 2006, and was not heard from until two weeks later when friends discovered that the journalist was being held in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand. The chief psychiatrist at the hospital stated that Karimov suffered from a psychiatric disorder and was accepting medication. He was reported at the time to be held in a room on his own. Karimov was allowed visits from his mother and fiancé, who reported that on occasion he appeared distressed and asked them to help him get out. In August 2007, there were reports that his health had deteriorated further, in particular his failing eyesight.
There were fears that Karimov’s incarceration was directly related to his critical reporting. Despite his relation to President Islam Karimov, he was said to have been openly critical of his uncle’s regime.
Since mid-2006, Karimov had been under surveillance by intelligence agencies, and in August 2006, his mother reportedly demanded of the authorities, unsuccessfully, that listening devices be removed from their property. Also in August 2006, Karimov’s passport was seized after he applied for a visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan. It is reported that on August 31, 2006, the head of the regional administration visited Karimov and offered him positions on official newspapers, apparently in a bid to entice him to stop his independent journalism.
Karimov’s mother, who had been outspoken in her son’s defense, died in March 2008. Following her death media attention and reporting on his ongoing detention decreased dramatically.
Ongoing detention of writers in Uzbekistan
PEN International is also concerned about the ongoing detention of a number of other writers in Uzbekistan:
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, a journalist for the independent German-based Uzbek agency and Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, who was arrested on June 7, 2008, and is currently serving a 10-year sentence on charges of possession and “intent to sell” narcotics. There are concerns that these charges have been fabricated and that Abdurakhmanov was targeted due to his human rights monitoring.
Mamadali Mahmudov, a writer and opposition activist, arrested on February 19, 1999, who is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for charges which appear to be related to his writings for the opposition Erk newspaper. Makhmudov has claimed he was tortured during the investigation.
Dilmurod Saidov, a journalist arrested on February 22, 2009, who is serving a 12.5-year sentence for extortion and forgery following a trial that was reportedly riddled with procedural violations.
For more information on other writers currently detained in Uzbekistan please see the current PEN Case List.

More information:


Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of journalist Dzamshid Karimov;
  • Expressing concern over reports that his health has suffered as a result of his incarceration in a psychiatric hospital;
  • Expressing concern at the ongoing detention of writers and journalist in Uzbekistan, in particular Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Mamadali Mahmudov and Dilmurod Saidov;
  • Calling on the Uzbek authorities to live up to their commitments to respect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Islam A. Karimov
Rezidentsiya Prezidenta
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaia 43

Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. Sayora Rashidova
700008 g. Tashkent
pl. Mustqkillik, 2
Oliy Majlis Respubliki Uzbekistan
Fax: +998 71 139 8555

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Uzbekistan in your country if possible.