Uzbekistan: condemn torture of Elena Urlaeva

Member organizations of the Civic Solidarity Platform have been deeply disturbed and shocked to learn of Uzbek authorities’ degrading and perverse treatment of well-known Uzbekistani human rights activist Elena Urlaeva on Sunday 31 May 2015.

For years, Elena Urlaeva of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan has been a fearless voice challenging one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. As numerous Uzbek human rights activists have been imprisoned or forced to flee into exile, Urlaeva has continued to work from inside the country, continuously facing harassment and sometimes violence at government hands.

On 31 May, Urlaeva was documenting the use of child labor in cotton fields outside the town of Chinaz, some 50 kilometers outside of Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. She had been collecting photographic evidence of the practice, for which Uzbekistan has widely condemned internationally, when she was detained by local police.

According to Urlaeva, police demanded that she hand over the memory card from her camera. Refusing to do so, she was held down by male police while a female doctor searched her vagina and rectum for the memory card, using an instrument that caused her bleeding. Urlaeva said she was given sedatives before the search. Police also made Urlaeva to relieve herself outside the police building, while filming and threatening to post the video online if she complained about her treatment. The interrogation and mistreatment lasted for 18 hours.

We, the members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, are shocked by and condemn the brutal treatment of our colleague and friend. Urlaeva’s ordeal clearly amounts to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and represents a blatant violation of the international human rights obligations of Uzbekistan. We keep in contact with Urlaeva, and have learnt that she is currently undergoing treatment after the abuse.

The Civic Solidarity Platform urges Uzbekistani authorities to launch an immediate and impartial investigation into the torture and ill-treatment of human rights defender Elena Urlaeva by officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Chinaz and ensure that the guilty are brought to justice. Authorities must also ensure that Elena Urlaeva suffers no further retributions or reprisals for speaking out about the abuse she suffered.

We call on the international community to send a strong message of condemnation to Uzbekistan and to stand with Elena Urlaeva and the few remaining activists in the country who continue to work for the benefit of their fellow citizens and their inaliable human rights.



Artice 19

Baryz Zvozkau Belarusian Human Rights House

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Center for Civil Liberties

Center for National and International Studies

Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights

Crude Acountability

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

Helsinki Committee of Armenia

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Human Rights Monitoring Institute

Human Rights Movement Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan

Index on Censorship

International Partnership for Human Rights

Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and Rule of Law

KRF Public Alternative

Moscow Helsinki Group

Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Office of Civil Freedoms

Promo LEX Moldova

Public Verdict

Strasbourg Initiative for European Initiativess

Swiss Helsinki Committee

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On 18-19 October 2017 Tashkent will host the Central Asian Media Conference organized by the Office of the Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Freedom of the Media.

Statement by International Partnership for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Civic Solidarity Platform, Human Rights Watch.