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Uzbekistan
28.07.22
Urgent Interventions

Uzbekistan: Abduction of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his relatives

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

UZB 001 / 0722 / OBS 063
Abduction /
At risk of torture and ill-treatment /
Violation to the right to freedom of assembly
Excessive use of force /
Internet shutdown
Uzbekistan
July 28, 2022


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the abduction of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his wife, two brothers, 8-year-old daughter and nephew in the city of Nukus, capital of the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan. Mr. Tajimuratov is a lawyer, independent journalist and defender of the rights of the Karakalpak national minority in Uzbekistan. These abductions took place amid a brutal crackdown on civil society in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, as well as the imposition of a one-month regional state of emergency and an Internet shutdown in the above-mentioned autonomous republic.

On June 30, 2022, at around 3 pm, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov publicly informed residents of Nukus about a peaceful protest against constitutional amendments earlier announced by the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev. On June 26, 2022, the latter had announced a series of constitutional amendments including removal of the autonomous status of the Republic Karakalpakstan. The protest against the amendments was planned for July 5, 2022, and the authorities, namely Mr. Murat Kamalov, Chairman of the Parliament of the Republic, had granted a permission for it.

Shortly after his speech, Uzbek National Security Service officers arbitrarily arrested Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his minor nephew at his home in Nukus. While Mr. Tajimuratov was released two hours later, the whereabouts of his nephew remained unknown at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. Following his release, Mr. Tajimuratov published a video in which he denounced the mistreatment he was subjected to in detention, including beatings on his chest. In the video, he renewed his call on Karakalpakstan citizens and civil society to protests against the above-mentioned proposed constitutional amendments.

On the same day, between 6 and 7pm, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov was abducted by alleged officers of the Uzbek National Security Service from his home in Nukus. His wife, daughter and his two brothers were also reportedly abducted. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, their fate and whereabouts remained unknown. The Observatory expresses its grave concern over the high risk of torture and ill-treatment to which Mr. Tajimuratov and his relatives are exposed.

On July 1, 2022, massive protests against the proposed constitutional amendments broke out in Nukus. The demonstration was peaceful and special forces were present but did not intervene in the beginning. However, later that evening, authorities resorted to water cannons, rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protest. According to unconfirmed reports, some people were killed by law enforcement officers during the dispersal of the demonstrations.

On July 2, 2022, a new protest organised in Nukus was dispersed by law enforcement officers. The few videos that circulated on social media on July 2 showed numerous bodies lying on the pavement, seemingly dead or badly injured. At least five peaceful protesters were killed between July 1 and 2, 2022.

While on July 2, 2022, the President of Uzbekistan turned down the plan to amend the Constitution, he declared a one-month state of emergency in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan until August 2, 2022. Moreover, the region has been undergoing an Internet shutdown since June 26, 2022, which severely restricts human rights monitoring and reporting and obstructs the dissemination of information abroad.

The Observatory strongly condemns the abduction of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his relatives, as well as the repression of peaceful protesters and civil society in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the Internet shutdown in the region, and fears that the authorities are using it to carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances as well as acts of torture and ill-treatment against arbitrarily detained individuals, including human rights defenders and independent journalists.

The Observatory urges the authorities of Uzbekistan to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his relatives, to guarantee in all circumstances their physical integrity and psychological well-being, and to immediately and unconditionally release them.

The Observatory further urges the Uzbek authorities to lift the Internet shutdown as well as the state of emergency in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, to put an immediate end to the ongoing crackdown on the Karakalpak civil society, and to carry out independent and thorough investigations into all human rights violations perpetrated against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and independent journalists since July 1, 2022.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uzbekistan asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, his relatives and all human rights defenders and independent journalists in the Uzbekistan;

ii. Immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his relatives, release them, and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them;

iii. Immediately lift the state of emergency and fully restore the Internet in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and guarantee in all circumstances the rights to liberty of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in the country, as enshrined in international human rights law and particularly in Articles 12, 19 and 21, respectively, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

iv. Carry out immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigations into the abduction of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and his relatives, as well as all the allegations of excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan since July 1, 2022.

Addresses:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, July 28, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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