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Political Activist Fears Extradition To Uzbekistan


November 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Human rights activists are concerned that Britain may deport opposition activist Jahongir Sidikov to Uzbekistan on November 28.

Sidikov and Uzbek rights activists told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that he would face immediate arrest, torture, and possible death if deported.

The concern is not unfounded -- the UN Committee Against Torture said last week that torture and ill-treatment are "widespread" in Uzbekistan.

Speaking by phone today from a detention center in London, Sidikov expressed fear for his life. "According to the latest news that I have got, they are going to send me back to Uzbekistan on Wednesday. I know that right after my arrival in Uzbekistan I'll be arrested. I'm afraid that I'll be persecuted and tortured. I'm really worried for my life."

Sidikov is a member of Erk, a banned Uzbek opposition party. He came to London to study at the City University in 1999 and then sought unsuccessfully to gain political asylum in Britain.

On his website, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said Sidikov's deportation was initially scheduled for November 28 and later postponed after he resisted being detained.

Murray also said the European Court of Human Rights turned down an appeal for a temporary stay that was made on Sidikov's behalf.

Nadezhda Ataeva, the president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, said from Paris that Uzbek authorities are aware of the fact that Sidikov helped to organize a demonstration in London last year that commemorated the first anniversary of a bloody government crackdown on protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon that killed hundreds.

Torture 'Endemic' To System

In an assessment issued on November 23, the UN Committee Against Torture noted a range of concerns about what it termed "numerous, ongoing, and consistent allegations concerning routine use of torture...committed by law enforcement and investigative personnel, or with their instigation or consent."

And in a report released on November 7, New York-based Human Rights Watch said torture is "endemic" in Uzbekistan's criminal-justice system.

Also this month, two Uzbek men convicted of alleged membership of the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir reportedly died after being tortured while in prison in Andijon.

Local rights activists and family members told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that the bodies of Tohir Nurmuhammedov and Fitrat Salohiddinov showed signs of torture when they were handed over to their families.

(with material from uznews.net, craigmurray.org.uk)
RFE/RL Central Asia Report


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