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Wife Of Jailed Uzbek Dissident Appeals To UN For Help

Yusuf Juma

Yusuf Juma

Gulnora Oltieva, the wife of dissident Uzbek poet and government critic Yusuf Juma, is appealing to the UN Committee Against Torture to help save her husband from dying in prison.

Juma, 50, is serving five years in Jaslyk prison in northwestern Karakalpakstan after being convicted in April for resisting arrest and for the use of violence and insulting language against police. Juma and his son Bobur, 25, were arrested last December after staging a protest in their native city of Bukhara against President Islam Karimov. Bobur was given a suspended sentence at the same trial.

Juma's daughter Feruza says she managed to visit her father in prison earlier this month. In an interview with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Feruza said her father's physical appearance had changed so dramatically that she did not recognize him.

Feruza said her father told her that he had been tortured and beaten since his arrest and had been told that he would not get of prison alive.

"Karimov sent my husband to one of the world’s cruellest prisons – Jaslyk prison, dubbed 'Barsa Kelmes,' which means, 'If you go, you will never return,' Oltieva said in a statement. "Karimov sent him there with the hope of getting rid of him forever. At the moment, leaders of all democratic countries -- pursuing their national interests -- see only the positive aspects of the Karimov regime. I insistently demand that you help stop torture in Uzbek jails."

Oltieva also is appealing to the UN for helping in finding her other son, Mashrab, 22, whom she says has disappeared in the same prison. Mashrab has been serving a prison term for hooliganism since last year.

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