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Second Uzbek Journalist Ends Hunger Strike

Uzbek TV journalists Malohat Eshonqulova (left) and Saodat Omonova during their hunger strike

Uzbek TV journalists Malohat Eshonqulova (left) and Saodat Omonova during their hunger strike

TASHKENT -- The second journalist protesting media censorship in Uzbekistan has ended her hunger strike due to poor health, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Malohat Eshonqulova told RFE/RL on July 15 that she decided to end her hunger strike after 19 days after she started spitting up blood and could not lift her head.

Eshonqulova added that another reason for ending her strike was that her hospitalized mother-in-law has lapsed into a coma.

Eshonqulova's colleague, Saodat Omonova, ended her hunger strike on July 12 after being forcibly hospitalized.

Eshonqulova said that once they had recovered they wanted to issue an official statement regarding their hunger strike to international organizations, human rights groups, and journalists.

Omonova and Eshonqulova were detained in Tashkent on June 27 -- which is Media Workers' Day in Uzbekistan -- when they tried to start a hunger strike outside President Islam Karimov's residence.

They were arrested, and a Tashkent district court fined them 2.94 million soms (about $1,500) for holding an unauthorized protest.

The two women were seeking a meeting with Karimov to discuss media censorship at the Yoshlar (Youth) TV station, from which they were both dismissed in December, three days after staging a protest on Tashkent's main square against media censorship.

They filed a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal against the management of Yoshlar, but on May 31 a district court ruled in favor of the TV station, saying the women's dismissal was legal. They have appealed that verdict.

Eshonqulova told RFE/RL that since May 2 they have sent 56 letters to Karimov detailing examples of censorship at Yoshlar and requesting a meeting with him. But they have received no response.

Read more in Uzbek here