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Gulnara Karimova Talks Torture


Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been feeling the heat of late.

Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been feeling the heat of late.

After being challenged on Twitter for over a year by Western activists, Gulnara Karimova is tweeting for the first time about alleged rights abuses in her country.

The daughter of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's long-serving president, says security services have arrested former bodyguards and either have subjected them to torture or will do so soon.

"Today Khayot Sharifutdinov arrested former guards," she said, apparently referring to Khayot Sharifkhujaev, chief of the internal security service. In a garbled reference to a Soviet-era idiom that typically denotes dismissiveness towards a rival's actions or requests , she continued: "That's [their] Chamberlain reply...and not a very wise one! Now they [internal security service] will beat them [former guards]."

Ten minutes later she posted a doctor's note dated February 2, 2013, which described a person whose ribs had been broken. Karimova claimed the person, himself a member of the security services, had been beaten by internal state security.


Karimova, who a leaked State Department cable once called "the single most hated person" in Uzbekistan, has long neglected to answer questions from journalists and rights activists challenging her on accusations of state-sanctioned torture of political opponents.

Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director of Human Rights Watch, has tried to get her to respond to the allegations on several occasions.

"Where were her complaints when it was the thousands of other people [who were being tortured]?" he asks. "If she's talking about it now it's because it's her personage, it affects her. That's why she suddenly seems to care about it."

The tweets are just the latest volley in a very public battle the 41-year-old has been fighting since mid-October, when a sweeping crackdown on Karimova, apparently ordered by Karimov himself, began in earnest.

Authorities have frozen assets in a media holding company linked to Karimova, pulled several of her TV and radio stations off the air and arrested members of her inner circle.

INFOGRAPHIC: Gulnara Karimova Under Pressure
Hover over the black dots to see how Karimova's world is changing.

Seemingly without other recourse, she has taken to Twitter to vent her frustration in often bizarre commentary -- accusing her mother of practicing satanic rituals, claiming her sister practices witchcraft, and comparing her father to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Stroehlein says the palace intrigue may actually pay dividends for the human rights community, as warring factions release compromising information, including evidence of rights abuses, in an effort to undermine each other.

In October, Stroehlein saw an increase in the number of Uzbekistan abuse accusations being sent to Human Rights Watch.

"I think the floodgates aren't quite open yet, but we're starting to see more water coming through," he says. "As the regime -- which is founded on torture basically, and horrific human rights abuses that spread fear throughout society -- as that starts to break down and break apart into different factions, these factions are going to try to dish dirt on each other and more is going to come out, quite logically."

-- Glenn Kates, Alisher Sidikov

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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