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Uzbek Rights Activists Beaten At Demonstration

9 February 2005 -- Uzbek rights activists taking part in a demonstration against prisoner abuse were attacked by a group of women in the capital Tashkent.

Two activists needed to be hospitalized for treatment of their injuries.

Rights activist Abdujalil Boymatov described to RFE/RL how he was attacked.

"[Women] were beating me for half an hour, they took my briefcase, where I had many documents including my passport and a military service document. They did it on purpose. There were many policemen near the city administration and the bank buildings. None of them protected us," Boymatov said.

The attack happened outside the city administration building today.

Prominent rights campaigner Elena Urlaeva, who was bleeding from the nose and mouth, said they believe the attackers were "hired provocateurs."

The assailants shouted death threats, saying protests made people's lives worse.

Uzbekistan's government has been accused of systematic use of torture in prisons.