News has finally arrived from one of four journalists currently being jailed for reporting critically in Uzbekistan, where no updates could be found before. The update serves to confirm years of human rights groups’ allegations that Uzbek detainees are abused in prisons there.
According to a Committee to Protect Journalists article, Dilmurod Saiid, a journalist currently serving a 12.5-year term on extortion charges, passed a handwritten, encoded note to his brother, which revealed abusive conditions in the high-security prison. His brother then passed the note to local activist Abdurakhmon Tashanov who decoded the note, which was written as a series of numbers correlating to articles in the Uzbek constitution and criminal code.
A reference in the note to “December 1984 convention” led the CPJ to the legislation that strictly says Uzbek citizens have the right not to be tortured or forcefully hospitalized. Though Saiid was not able to include details of his abuse, it is safe to say he has been tortured and forced to undergo psychiatric treatment.
Most experts agree that the charges of extortion held against Saiid were phony, and he was instead jailed for reporting critically on regional government abuse of farmers’ rights.
Prison abuse in Uzbekistan has long been reported on. In September of 2012, Radio Free Europe wrote an article about a letter smuggled out of another Uzbek prison detailing extended solitary confinement, beating of the heels, sexual assault, and use of electric shocks as torture devices. In 2002, according to Physicians for Human Rights, two suspicious deaths at that prison were determined to be from submersion by boiling water.
Saiid is one of four journalists currently serving long prison sentences. According to Committee to Protect Journalists, Uzbek authorities have not updated any human rights organizations on the location or conditions of Saiid, Muhammad Bekjanov, Yusuf Ruzimuradov, or Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov.
By Kelly Moffitt.