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Gulsumoi Abdujalilova (right) had been living in Germany, but was interrogated by the Uzbek authorities while home on vacation.
TASHKENT -- A woman has committed suicide in the western Uzbek city of Andijon after reportedly being interrogated by police for four days, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

According to Yelena Urlayeva, chairwoman of the Uzbek nongovernmental organization Human Rights Alliance, Gulsumoi Abdujalilova, a 32-year-old university student in Germany who was home on vacation, killed herself on December 4 by swallowing large amounts of pills.

Urlayeva told RFE/RL on December 5 that Abdujalilova was summoned by Andijon police last week and interrogated for four days.

Urlayeva said Abdujalilova was beaten while at the police station and forced to write statements against Muhammad Salih, the self-exiled leader of the opposition People's Movement of Uzbekistan (OHH).

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."

A friend of Abdujalilova, who asked to remain anonymous, told RFE/RL that he and Abdujalilova often communicated via Skype. He said that she told him that Andijon police had summoned her last week.

"I later learned that she had committed suicide," he said.

It is not clear why Abdujalilova was summoned to police and kept there for four days. Interior Ministry officials in Andijon were not available for comment.

The OHH website expressed its condolences to Abdujalilova's relatives and stated that she had never been a member of the opposition movement.

Read more in Uzbek here
The banned Belarusian national flag flies in Vitebsk in December.
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- Two trials against a well-known Belarusian activist for displaying a pre-Lukashenka-era national flag have been postponed in the eastern city of Vitsebsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Syarhey Kavalenka, 36, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front, was sentenced in January 2010 to three years of "limited freedom" for "the illegal display of the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

In accordance with that verdict, Kavalenka had to report to local parole officers every Thursday and stay home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

On November 24, the parole officers told Kavalenka's wife that "from now on [your husband] has to stay at home after 7:30 pm."

But Kavalenka refused later to sign a document confirming that he was informed about the changes to his regime and that he agrees with them.

Later the same day, several police officers from Vitsebsk's Pershamay district police department came to Kavalenka's apartment and took him into detention.

The police informed the activist that he was charged with "verbally insulting police using vulgar words."

Kavalenka spent a night in the police department and was brought to the Pershamay district court on November 25. The hearing was postponed until today after Kavalenka demanded that his lawyer be present.

But Judge Ina Hrabouskaya on December 5 had to postpone the hearings until December 9 after a Belarusian-Russian translator requested by Kavalenka did not show up in the courtroom.

The judge also postponed another hearing against Kavalenka on December 5. Local police say they recognized Kavalenka on photos and videos circulating on the Internet that show him placing the banned Belarusian national white-red-white flag on the roofs of two buildings in Vitsebsk on November 27.

Kavalenka told RFE/RL that he had nothing to do with those flags.

The judge decided to postpone the hearings on that charge to December 13 because, she said, the police did not show in the charges filed against Kavalenka that the defendant had been found guilty of committing a similar illegal act in the past.

If found guilty, Kavalenka could be sent to a labor camp to serve the rest of his "limited freedom" term.

The current, mostly red and green, official flag of Belarus was adopted after a widely criticized referendum under President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's administration in 1995, replacing the red and white flag of the 1918 Belarusian People's Republic and post-Soviet independence from 1991.

The red and white flag is thus regarded by some as a symbol of challenge to Lukashenka's legitimacy.

Read more in Belarusian here

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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