Thursday, August 28, 2014


The Curious Case Of Uzbekistan's Gulsumoi Abdujalilova

Khurshida Jurabayeva originally said that the woman pictured was Gulsumoi Abdujalilova
Khurshida Jurabayeva originally said that the woman pictured was Gulsumoi Abdujalilova
By Antoine Blua
For more than two weeks, mystery has surrounded the case of a woman who was said to have committed suicide in Uzbekistan after being interrogated by police.
Under the initially reported scenario, Gulsumoi Abdujalilova, a 32-year-old university student in Germany who was home on vacation, killed herself in the eastern region of Andijon on December 4 by swallowing large amounts of pills.
That story, it now turns out, was a hoax that fooled Uzbek human rights activists and the media, including RFE/RL and the BBC.
Khurshida Jurabayeva, an Uzbek woman who had produced a death certificate for Abdujalilova and photographs of her, acknowledged this week that she had made up the story.
'Assassination Plan'

At a press conference in Istanbul on December 19, Jurabayeva said the tale was part of a plot by the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB) to kill Uzbek opposition leader Muhammad Salih.
"According to the plan, I was to arrive to Moscow and go to the UNHCR office to apply for asylum. And afterward, someone would contact me. I was told to introduce this man to Muhammad Salih as my close relative," Jurabayeva said.
"When I asked who this man would be, they said: ‘He would pose as your relative, and after you introduce him, you shouldn’t worry about anything else, he would go and finish him [Muhammad Salih].'"
Abdujalilova's "suicide" and its debunking is a convoluted and cautionary tale.
On December 5, Yelena Urlayeva, chairwoman of the Uzbek nongovernmental organization Human Rights Alliance, told RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service that Abdujalilova was summoned by Andijon police the previous week and interrogated for four days.
Urlayeva said Abdujalilova was beaten while at the police station and forced to write statements against Salih, the leader of the Erk Democratic party and self-exiled leader of the recently formed opposition People's Movement of Uzbekistan (PMU).
Urlayeva said Abdujalilova left a suicide note in which she wrote: "they tried to make me kill some opposition activists, but it is better if I die myself than to take someone else's life." 
The document which was presented as Abdujalilova's death certificateThe document which was presented as Abdujalilova's death certificate
The document which was presented as Abdujalilova's death certificate
The document which was presented as Abdujalilova's death certificate
Abdujalilova’s Facebook page, which has since disappeared, identified her as a PMU supporter. 
Urlayeva said she had learned of the case after receiving a call from someone claiming to be Abdujalilova’s sister.
A friend of Abdujalilova, who asked to remain anonymous, at the time told RFE/RL that he and Abdujalilova often communicated via Skype. He said that she told him that Andijon police had summoned her.
Series Of Doubts

But soon after the suicide was reported, doubts were cast on the story. 
The Tashkent-based Uzmetronom news website posted an article suggesting that Abdujalilova never existed. Around the same time, Urlayeva traveled to the Kurghontepa district of the Andijon region to investigate the case. 
In a statement last week, she announced that she could not find any trace of Abdujalilova there.
Meanwhile, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service launched its own investigation focusing on photographs of Abdujalilova that had been circulated around the Internet.
A woman identified as Iroda Karabayeva contacted RFE/RL from Germany, saying the purported photographs of Abdujalilova were actually of her. 
So RFE/RL arranged for her to meet -- virtually -- with Jurabayeva, the woman who had provided the photographs of Abdujalilova. 
In a December 14 confrontation via Skype video conference, Karabayeva said she knew Jurabayeva and did not understand her friend's actions. 
"This is my friend Khurshi [diminutive for Khurshida]. I studied with her in Uzbekistan and we both studied in Germany and kept in touch," Karabayeva said. "I do not understand why she is attributing my pictures to some dead girl. I do not know anyone with a name of Gulsumoi."
Jurabayeva, who was in Turkey when the video conference took place, maintained at that point that her story was true and that Karabaeva was lying.
"I don’t know anyone with a name of Iroda. The girl from the picture is Gulsumoi and this girl here looks alike, but is for sure not Gulijon [diminutive for Gulsumoi]. I have no idea about what her purpose is, but Gulsumoi is a real person and recently she committed suicide," Jurabayeva said.
Jurabayeva also produced the copy of a death certificate for Abdujalilova apparently issued by the registry office of Kurgontepa district. The document, signed by a certain M. Khamrayeva, read that Gulsomoi Abdujalilova had died of “respiratory failure.”
RFE/RL contacted the office which issued the document and an unidentified official said they had never heard about the death, and that no one named Gulsomoi Abdujalilova had ever lived in the district. The official also denied anyone bearing the name M. Khamrayeva had worked in their registry office.
The story still leaves many questions unanswered. 
Chief among them is -- who was behind this elaborate hoax? And how credible is the confession of Jurabayeva, the woman who was one of the sources for the original suicide story? 
The only thing for sure, it seems, is that there was never any Gulsumoi Abdujalilova. 

reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Nodir Tilavov from: US
December 21, 2011 15:10
1.Why you talking only about Urlaeva and do not mentioning about imam Muhammmadsalih Abutov? Uzbek service presented him as a main source...
2.Why you do not talking about PMU's statement on Gulsumoy's death which Uzbek service also used as a main document?
All the best.
In Response

by: Aftab Kazi from: Washington, DC
December 22, 2011 05:02
I wish media and HRW groups do not publicize anything without coroborated evidence. In the past many such misinformation attributed to Uzbekistan was turned into hoaxes. Current media attitude is neither helping our policies towards a pivotal NDN partner nor in fact hurting the government of Uzbekistan, only hurting our image. The fact remains, as late Abdulmanon Polat, a relative of Muhammad Salih told me in 2009 or so that Berlik/PMR does not have sufficient cloud in Uzbelistan to be active in national politics. Nor the names of brilliant innocent students, the assets of Uzbekistan be maligned any way. Journalists will learn a great deal by studying the concurent economic, human rights, judicial, political and social reforms legistlated by OLiy Majlis and implemented by the government with relatively amazing results. Spreading misinformation about the country's venerated founding President, his family and broader government may satisfy personal-self egos of a few opponents, but it will not create a dent against the Uzbek government and people. Sooner or later truth about this hoax will be public and is likely to hurt the credibility and images of planners not only in Uzbekistan but throughout the region, which is probably already undergoing through serious geopolinomical changes. We need better relationships with Uzbekistan and all of her neighbors. With kind respectful regards.
In Response

by: Seidkazi from: Ma Wara An-Nahr
December 23, 2011 09:47
"Spreading misinformation about the country's presiedent, his family and broader government may satisfy personal-self egos (...)"

Yes, although I believe, Mr. Kazi, that the 'ego satisfaction' line is also well-applicable to third-rank foreign academics who are co-opted and used by the regime for its international PR spin.

For the rest, I agree with you that the historical opposition-in-exile (the group round Salih as well as Polat) has not real clout in Uzbekistan itself any longer. They've been away for too long and, along with the human rights scene, excelled in internal squibbling.
In Response

by: Aftab Kazi from: Washington, DC
December 23, 2011 10:56
Sir, time is already telling the difference betwen first and third class academics. Predictions and prescriptions on transitions by those you consider first class academics (your standards) about broader Central Eurasia hav'nt materialized, albeit the same by those you call third class academics on the subject over the last 15 years or so has materialized. Once you would understand betwen geopolitics (by first class academics) and geopolinomics (by third class academics; unfortunately they have ben innovative), perhaps, you may no more categorize academicians in classes. Moreover, no one could co-opt the independent mind (third-class academics -your term). Thanks for the compliment, any way.

by: Uzbek
December 24, 2011 12:08
Mr. Kazi, could you kindly post a link, which shows, funding source of your organization {Central Asia and Caucasus Institute} ? , If the organization run by tax payers money, they have right to access to those information, right?

Even if it's privately funded, I don't think it should be so sensitive, that you can't disclose it. We know America is a transparent country, which seeks openess around the globe, so we rightly expect that your organization to follow this example.

I am asking this question upon my curiosity, that when I see you and your boss Fred Star, openly advocating man like Karimov, who is known boiling his own opponents, and the Turkmen dictator, I can’t stop questioning source of your funding.

Be brave, make it clear. Than we will clearly understand, you being honest, while advocating for those dictators.

by: Sam from: DC
December 27, 2011 17:49
Any information from the German University that Gulsmoi attended? They would be able to corroborate the fact she was in Germany and that she really exists.

Have RFE/RL made any attempt to positively identify Iroda Karabayeva? Was any information extracted from the Facebook page?
In Response

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
January 05, 2012 06:18
No such person was registered at the German University "Gulsumoy" was said to have attended.

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