Salijon Abdurahmanov

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Salijon Abdurahmanov
Born (1950-05-28) May 28, 1950 (age 64)
Nukus, Uzbekistan
Nationality Uzbekistan
Occupation journalist
Known for 2008 conviction for drug possession

Salijon Abdurahmanov (born 28 May 1950 in Nukus, Uzbekistan)[1][2] is an Uzbek journalist who contributed to Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and uznews.net. In October 2008, he was given a ten-year prison sentence for marijuana and opium possession.[3] He asserted his innocence of the charges, stating that the drugs were planted by police officers.[4] Several international human rights NGOs have called for his release, including Amnesty International, which designated him a prisoner of conscience.

Career[edit]

Abdurahmanov worked as a correspondent for Radio Free Europe until 2005.[2] He also contributed to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.[5] At the time of his arrest, he was a contributor to Voice of America's Uzbek service as well as the independent news site uznews.net.[3]

He is an activist for the independence of Karakalpakstan, a region of Uzbekistan bordering the Aral Sea.[2]

Arrest for drug possession[edit]

On 7 June 2008, Abdurahmanov was stopped by traffic police, who searched his car and stated that they found 114 grams (4.0 oz) of marijuana and 5 grams (0.18 oz) of opium in his trunk. Abdurahmanov stated that the drugs had been planted in retaliation for a story he had recently published about alleged corruption of traffic police. After blood tests found no narcotics in Abdurahmanov's system, the authorities increased the charge to possession with intent to sell. On 10 October 2008, he was found guilty by a district court and sentenced to 10 years in prison.[5] The sentence was upheld by the Karakalpak Supreme Court’s Appeal Commission two days later.[4]

His imprisonment was condemned by a number of international human rights NGOs, which alleged that his arrest was connected to his journalism and activism for the Karakalpakstan separatist movement. Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience, "detained solely for carrying out his human rights activities and exercising his right to freedom of expression".[2] Front Line stated that it was "deeply concerned" by the arrest,[4] and the International Federation for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture issued a joint statement urging his release, calling his detention "arbitrary" and for the sole purpose of "sanctioning his human rights activities".[6] The Committee to Protect Journalists called for Abdurahmanov's release and for the Uzbek government to be held accountable for his detention.[7] The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe stated that the drug charges were "made-up" and that Abdurahmanov's trial "did not stand the scrutiny of a fair procedure."[8] Human Rights Watch called the conviction "an affront to human rights and free speech".[9]

Jeff Gedmin, president of Abdurahmanov's former employer Radio Free Europe, also spoke against the arrest, stating, "If President Islam Karimov is eager to rehabilitate his country's reputation, he should stop treating free speech as a criminal offense and let Abdurahmanov and nearly 20 other journalists and human rights defenders out of prison immediately."[2]

"Imposter" incident[edit]

In late 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross attempted unsuccessfully to meet with Abdurahmanov for several months. According to Abdurahmanov's son Davron, at one point, prison authorities introduced another man claiming to be Abdurahmanov to ICRC inspectors. The ICRC inspectors had seen a photograph of the real Abdurahmanov and refused to believe the imposter.[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jailed Karakalpak journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov turns 60". uznews.net. 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Amnesty Declares Uzbek Journalist Prisoner Of Conscience". Radio Free Europe. 6 August 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Uzbek Prison Shows 'Impostor' To Red Cross". Radio Free Europe. 20 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Uzbekistan: Human rights defender and journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov sentence upheld". Front Line Defenders. 13 October 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Uzbek slammed with 10-year prison term". Committee to Protect Journalists. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Confirmation in Appeal of Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov's Sentence to Ten Years in Prison". International Federation for Human Rights. 11 December 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "CPJ calls for release of jailed reporters in Central Asia". Committee to Protect Journalists. 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "OSCE Says Uzbekistan Made Up Charges Against Journalist". Radio Free Europe. 16 October 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Uzbekistan: Journalist Sentenced to 10 Years". US Federal News Service  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 11 October 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Uzbek Prison Shows 'Impostor' To Red Cross". Radio Free Europe. 20 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Uzbekistan Trots Out Imposter Political Prisoner – Report". eurasia.net. 20 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.