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Uzbekistan: Police Break Up Protest Outside Ministry

Tashkent, 27 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say Uzbek police used force to break up a protest outside the Interior Ministry in Tashkent today, reportedly detaining at least three members of a local human rights organization, the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan. The protesters were demanding the release of Yuldash Rasulov, who was arrested on 24 May for alleged involvement in recruiting young men for an extremist religious group, Jamiat. Rasulov is a member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan.

Bakhtiyor Khamraev, a member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, said Rasulov had had nothing to do with any radical religious group. "This is an action against our human rights organization," he said.

Reports say police broke up the demonstration less than one hour after it started. Some of those detained were later released. Initial reports did not give names of those taken into custody.

International human rights groups and Western governments have repeatedly criticized the Uzbek government for human rights violations.