Twelve-Year Sentence for Journalist Dilmurod Saidov
International PEN is shocked by the 12 1/2-year sentence handed to Uzbek journalist Dilmurod Saidov on July 30, 2009, on criminal charges of extortion and forgery. Human rights observers inside and outside Uzbekistan believe that he is being punished for his reporting on corruption and for his activism for farmers’ rights. The trial was highly flawed, with reports of people forced to provide false witness and lack of substantive evidence. PEN has observed that in Uzbekistan, criminal charges are frequently laid against journalists who are critical of the government as a means of silencing dissent. PEN therefore is adding its voice to calls for Saidov’s immediate and unconditional release.
Human Rights Watch issued the following press release about Saidov's conviction:
New York, August 3, 2009–Uzbek authorities should immediately free the independent journalist Dilmurod Saidov, sentenced on July 30, 2009, to 12 1/2 years in prison following a flawed trial brought on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial was riddled with procedural violations, and several witnesses ultimately withdrew their testimony, saying they had given false evidence, rendering his conviction fundamentally unsound.
Human Rights Watch and local human rights defenders believe that Saidov (pen name Sayyid) was prosecuted and convicted because of his efforts to expose local officials' abuse of power and corruption and his willingness to fight for the rights of farmers in the Samarkand region. Uzbekistan has frequently jailed human rights defenders for their human rights activities.
Saidov was convicted of extortion and forgery in a closed session at the Tailak District Court. Neither Saidov's lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov, nor his public defender, Abdurakhman Tashanov, nor his family members were informed of the trial date in advance. Vasila Inoyatova, director of the human rights group Ezgulik, told Human Rights Watch that she asked the court secretary why the sentencing was closed, and was told that it was "in the interest of security." No further explanation was given.
Saidov is an independent journalist who has worked for years to expose corruption, abuse of power, and the general social and economic situation in the Samarkand region. His articles have been published in many local newspapers, as well as by the internet-based news agency that reports on human rights violations in Central Asia, Voice of Freedom, among others. Saidov is a member of the Tashkent Regional Branch of Ezgulik, and since 2004 he has been actively helping farmers defend their rights in the Samarkand region. In addition, for several months in 2008 he was a member of the Rapid Response Group, which works to prevent torture in Uzbekistan.
Write A Letter
- Expressing shock at the 12 1/2-year sentence handed to Dilmurod Saidov;
- Stating that as a long time critic of the authorities and rights activist, questions arise about whether the criminal charges against him were a pretext to penalize him for these activities;
- Pointing out that these concerns are made more urgent by reports that the trial against him was highly flawed, with witnesses retracting statements claiming they had been coerced into making false testimonies, and that the evidence against him presented to the court was very weak;
- Stating that in addition, the frequent reports, verified by numerous sources, that other writers, journalists and human rights defenders have been convicted of criminal offences in similarly questionable circumstances adds to the fears that Saidov is another victim of injustice;
- In light of these concerns, calling for Dilmurod’s immediate release.
Send Your Letter To
Islam A. Karimov
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaia 43
Fax: +998 71 139 5325
Email: [email protected]
Ravshan Abdulatifovich Mukhitdinov
Minister of Justice
5, Saylgokh Str.
Fax: +998 71 233 5176
Email: [email protected]
Head of the National Centre for Human Rights
Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka
5/3 Mustakillik Maidoni
Fax: +998 71 139 1356
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Uzbekistan in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after September 24, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org