In a statement released today, the Initiative Committee of Independent Human Rights Activists in Uzbekistan said Tohir Nurmuhammedov died of torture on November 13 while in prison in the eastern city of Andijon.
The following day his body was handed over to his family in the capital, Tashkent.
Nurmuhammedov's mother, Rano, confirmed his son's death to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service today. "They killed my son in prison. I cannot speak now," she cried.
Uzbek rights activist Surat Ikramov gave more details: "Tohir Nurmuhammedov's close relatives say his body bore multiple traces of torture, numerous wounds, grazes, bruises, and blood traces. In addition his relatives said he had never complained about his health, he was healthy, although he always complained about torture."
Nurmuhammedov was sentenced to eight years in prison in April 2002 for alleged membership to the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Another alleged member of the group, Fitrat Salohiddinov, reportedly died of torture while in prison in Andijon. It is not known when he died but Ikramov has said his body was taken to his family in Tashkent on November 12.
In a report issued on November 7, Human Rights Watch said torture is "endemic" in the country's criminal justice system. The New York-based group urged the 10 independent experts making up the United Nations' antitorture panel to condemn Uzbekistan for violating a global ban on torture.
The UN Committee Against Torture met with Uzbek officials on November 9 and 12 in Geneva. The committee is expected to release its findings later this month.
The Uzbek government has also come under international scrutiny for its crackdown on dissidents, which intensified after the May 2005 violence in the eastern city of Andijon. Rights groups say hundreds of protesters died, but the government puts the figure at 187. It says many of those killed were security forces, and it blamed Islamic militants for instigating the violence.
ACTIVISTS AND AUTOCRATS: Eric McGlinchey, assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University, told an RFE/RL briefing that Islam-centered political movements present the most coherent challenge to autocratic governments in Central Asia.
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