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Uzbek Activist Said Forced Into Mental Hospital

TASHKENT -- Colleagues say Uzbek human rights activist Aliqul Sarimsoqov has been forcibly placed in a psychiatric clinic.

Aliqul Sarimsoqov, a member of Uzbekistan’s Alliance of Human Rights Defense, went missing last week.

His colleague, Shukhrat Rustamov, told RFE/RL on March 12 that Sarimsoqov was forcibly confined to a psychiatric clinic in his native city of Jizzakh.

In the Soviet era, dissidents were often pronounced mentally ill and forcibly treated in psychiatric clinics for years.

Sarimsoqov took part in several rallies in front of the presidential headquarters in Tashkent in recent weeks.

The Alliance of Human Rights Defense has filed a petition protesting Karimov's intention to run in a March 29 presidential election.

Karimov, 77, has ruled the nation of 29 million since 1990, the year before it gained independence in the Soviet collapse.

His government tolerates little dissent and has been accused of frequent human rights abuses.