Political trials continue in Uzbekistan on charges of citizens in anti-constitutional activities
Aziza Rasulova (Tashkent)
In the first half of March, a trial began against eight young men from the city of Yangiyul, accused of participating in the illegal extremist movement of Wahhabism. The prosecutor's office presented evidence of their guilt, namely, their own confessions, given during the preliminary investigation, and several religious leaflets found in the house of one of the defendants.
Reading out the indictment, the prosecutor announced that in the basement of a private shop owned by one of the defendants, secret religious meetings were held, where ideas of overthrowing the constitutional system were discussed. In addition, the defendants are guilty of reading namaz not in the traditional way, but as the Wahhabis do.
Relatives of the defendants said that the arrest of their loved ones came as a complete surprise to them, since the arrested had never shown themselves to be representatives of the Wahhabi trend. "Lord, who needs to make the criminals out of our sons?" This question unites crying mothers who are standing in front of the Tashkent Regional Court from morning to evening.
At the trial, all the defendants refused to confess and told that they had to completely take the blame under torture. “I was stripped and forced to spread my legs. Four operatives began to beat with their hands and feet until I could stand on their feet. After I fell, the operative began to jump on my back. I admitted my guilt. In fact, I do not understand what extremism and Wahhabism are, ”defendant Zoir Juraev said at the trial.
Three of the defendants were initially arrested for insulting women unknown to them, in connection with which they were subjected to administrative detention for several days. At that time, the investigators informed the arrested about the existence of a certain statement that they secretly met and held religious meetings.
The two defendants, who were arrested later than all, testified that they were shown battered guys who had already admitted their guilt. “They brought Zoira, who testified against me. He was breathing heavily and could not sit on the chair. I was scared and agreed to confess, ”said Alisher Tulyaganov.
The observers present at the trial noted that the judge took a clear indictment and practically ignored the testimony of the defendants about the use of torture. The judge asked the only question: “Why didn't the defendants tell the lawyers about the beatings?”
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch in the World Report notes that the courts ignore the statements of the defendants on torture and accept the confessions thus obtained as evidence. In particular, in trials on “religious” cases, defendants systematically receive long periods of time exclusively or primarily on the basis of such confessions. “On the day when I told the lawyer that I was being forced to confess to what was not, I was beaten even harder,” said 20-year-old Mansur Holikov.
Another question of the judge: Did the defendants discuss state policy? According to observers of the process, in a country where the standard of living is catastrophically falling, and corruption has enmeshed the entire state system, it is at least strange to actually require citizens not to discuss state policy.
Despite the fact that the case is “sewn with white thread,” one of the lawyers admitted that in such processes it is almost impossible to count on success. There are no cases when the judge issues an acquittal.
On the last day of the meeting, the defendant Alisher Korzhanov, who was at large, fainted at the time of testifying. His relatives say that operatives of the Yangiyul ROVD “processed” him until the very last moment so that he would testify against others. Before being taken unconscious to the hospital, Alisher told the judge that during the preliminary investigation he was also shown beaten up guys, after which he was forced to agree to slander them.
A few days ago, another trial ended in Tashkent in respect of 6 young men on a similar charge. The court sentenced each to various terms ranging from 5 to 6 years in prison. The proof of their guilt is found audio cassettes with religious sermons of the "forbidden" imams Obidhon kor Nazarov, officially wanted since 1998, and Abduvali Mirzayev, who disappeared at the airport under mysterious circumstances in 1999. In addition, the prosecution claims that convicts held periodic unauthorized religious meetings with the aim of training and disseminating Wahhabi ideas. The convicts, in turn, said that “religious gatherings” are only traditional “gap” meetings, when men usually meet and eat pilaf together.
According to Human Rights Wath, “for many years, the authorities have sent behind bars on charges of“ fundamentalism ”those whose peaceful Islamic beliefs, practices or ties do not fit into the rigid framework established by the state.” The Andijan events served as another reason to intensify this campaign.
In mid-February, 10 Uzbek citizens were deported from Ukraine to Uzbekistan at the request of the Uzbek special services. 9 of them were registered by UNHCR as applying for asylum.
The prosecutor's office has completed the investigation into the case of several more accused of participating in an extremist Wahhabism movement, deported from Kazakhstan. To date, the defendants have fully admitted to the charges, asking for forgiveness from the people and pardon President Karimov.
The government justifies the repression by the need to "fight against terrorism", while it does not distinguish between those who preach violence and those who peacefully express their religious views. According to a lawyer who attended one of the religious processes, “If you look at the Criminal Procedure Code, there is no crime in the case at all. Even if the defendants listened to the Wahhabi sermons, they did not perform a single act confirming that they had joined the Wahhabi organization. ”
Nevertheless, the local administrations officially obliged the chairmen of the makhallas (citizens' gathering) “To identify citizens conducting unregistered public activities, as well as citizens who have opposition sentiments, to conduct personal conversations with them and, if necessary, take serious practical actions against them.”
After the Andijan events, the repressions intensified not only in relation to “religious” groups, but also human rights activists, independent journalists, and simply people who expressed dissatisfaction with the existing regime. Over the past year, hundreds of Uzbek citizens have left the country because of persecution by the authorities and are forced to seek refuge, anywhere, just not in their homeland.