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Family Of Uzbek Political Prisoner Harassed By Police

Uzbek writer and opposition activist Mamadali Mahmudov is shown in this undated photo.
Uzbek writer and opposition activist Mamadali Mahmudov is shown in this undated photo.
Family members of Uzbek political prisoner Mamadali Mahmudov say police officers knocked on their door early on Saturday morning and forcibly took them to a local police station.

The police told Mahmudov’s wife, Gulsara, and their son, Bobur, that the family is on their “special list” and that police needed to update their records.

Gulsara Mahmudova told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that such police summons and check-ups have become part of her life since her husband was arrested in 1999.

Mahmudov, a writer-turned-opposition activist, gained literary fame in Uzbekistan after his historical novel, “Immortal Cliffs,” was published in the early 1980s.

During the 1990s, he become a staunch critic of the Uzbek government and of the policies of President Islam Karimov. Uzbek political activists credit Mahmudov for being one of the first to draw attention to torture in Uzbek prisons.

Uzbek authorities arrested Mahmudov and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. Among other charges, the writer was found guilty of insulting the president and of seeking to destroy the constitutional order.

His wife said Mahmudov has been tortured and put in solitary confinement.

There have been many prisoner amnesties in Uzbekistan since Mahmudov’s arrest, with thousands of inmates being released after presidential pardons. Mahmudov has not been among them.

Uzbek political activist Otanazar Oripov believes it is unlikely that Karimov will ever set free the writer, since he criticized the president’s policies.

(by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah)

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