International PEN is concerned by reports that Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma, who was arrested in December 2007, is suffering ill-treatment in prison. PEN seeks clarification of the reasons for Yusuf Juma’s detention and assurances that he is not being held in denial of his right to freedom of expression.

Background Information

In early December 2007, Yusuf Juma (also known as Yusuf Dzhumaev/Jumaev), 50, held a series of demonstrations in the southwestern city of Bukhara with other members of his family, during which they displayed posters calling for the resignation of Uzbek President Karimov, who was up for reelection. The posters were also posted on the Jumas’ car as it drove around the city.

On December 10, Yusuf Juma and his family were staging a demonstration at a bus stop and were ordered to disperse by police. Juma and others reportedly got into their car and drove off, injuring two policemen as they attempted to halt the vehicle. That evening, the Jumas' home was said to have been raided by police who shot into the house at random. Juma and his family fled into hiding. Some family members are now reported to be in exile.

Yusuf Juma was arrested around December 22 with his son Bobur Juma. He was subsequently sentenced on April 15, 2008, to five years in prison under Uzbek Criminal Codes Article 104 (Intentional Infliction of Serious Bodily Injury) and Article 219 (Resistance to Authority or Person Fulfilling Civil Duty). His son was given a suspended sentence and freed. According to reports, Juma does not deny that the two police could have been injured as he drove away. However, early police statements that the injuries were minor were later changed to be more serious, leading to questions about whether efforts were made to ensure that the dissident poet would be convicted and imprisoned.

Since February 2008, there have been reports that Yusuf Juma has suffered ill-treatment in detention. In mid-May, his family stated that he was in critical condition and had been denied necessary medical attention.

Yusuf Juma first came to the attention of International PEN in October 2000 when he was arrested on criminal charges that Uzbek human-rights groups considered to to be false as a means of penalizing him for his outspoken criticism, some of which was on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The trial ended in September 2001 and its outcome was unclear.

He was arrested again in October 2001 and held for two months on charges of “anticonstitutional activity” related to two articles in which he accused Bukhara officials of corruption. In response to appeals from International PEN in 2001, the Uzbek National Security Service wrote that Juma had been calling for a “holy jihad” and referred to 1994 charges that accused Juma of physical attacks against his neighbors. Supporters dispute this, claiming that local people had been coerced by police to make false allegations. Until the arrest in December 2007, PEN had not received reports of further attacks against him, although it is apparent that he continued his dissident activities.

Write A Letter

  • expressing concern about reports that Yusuf Juma has suffered ill-treatment in prison and is being denied medical attention;
  • stating that the evidence against Juma may have been manipulated to ensure his conviction and imprisonment in retaliation for his long-standing criticism of the government;
  • calling for Yusuf Juma to be freed immediately and unconditionally if he is held solely in denial of his rights to freedom of expression and association, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Islam A. Karimov
Rezidentysia prezidenta
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaia 43
Tashkent
Uzbekistan
Fax: +998 71 139 5325
E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz

General Prosecutor
Rashidzhon Kodirov
Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan
Ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047
Tashkent
Uzbekistan
Fax: 998 71 133 39 17/133 73 68
E-mail: prokuratura@lawyer.com

Head of the National Center for Human Rights
Akmal Saidov
Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka
5/3 Mustakillik Maidoni
Tashkent 700029
Uzbekistan
Fax: +998 71 139 13 56

Please send copies of your appeal to the representative of Uzbekistan in your country.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals afer June 18, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org