Three detained in crackdown on journalists

first_img News May 28, 2003 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Three detained in crackdown on journalists News May 11, 2021 Find out more RSF_en UzbekistanEurope – Central Asia Help by sharing this information February 11, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Uzbekistan Receive email alerts More than six years in prison for Uzbek blogger who covered corruptioncenter_img October 15, 2020 Find out more Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep concern about the arrests in the past two days of three members of a press freedom organisation, the Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan (UIJU), two of them on charges of homosexuality and sex with minors. The organisation also deplored an attempt by a state-owned TV station to fire a journalist who had objected to censorship and to the dismissal of the station’s news editor earlier this month.In a letter to President Islam Karimov, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard noted that at least two newspaper have been closed and several journalist have been arrested since the start of the year, usually on false pretexts, and now, over a matter of days, at least two journalists had been dismissed from one of the state TV channels for straying from the official line or publicly denouncing press freedom violations.”In view of this context of repression, we fear that the arrest of three members of a press freedom organisation on charges of ‘homosexuality’ and ‘sexual abuses’ is just a new, sordid way to harass or get rid of critical journalists who have upset the authorities,” Ménard said.”We call on your to do everything possible to ensure that all forms of censorship stops in Uzbekistan, that the dismissed journalists are reinstated in their former positions and that press freedom activists can work freely,” Ménard’s letter concluded.UIJU president Ruslan Sharipov and a UIJU activist, Azamat Mamankulov, were arrested in the centre of Tashkent on the evening of 26 May, between 5 and 6 p.m. A third member of the UIJU, Oleg Sarapulov, was arrested in a bazaar an hour and a half later. All three a currently held in a Tashkent police station. The police at first denied to Human Rights Watch representative Matilda Bogner and a US embassy official that the three journalists were detained. Subsequently, on the morning of 27 May, they did confirm their arrest to a representative of Freedom House, another human rights organisation.Sharipov and Sarapulov have been accused under articles 1.20 and 1.35 of the criminal code of being homosexual and of paying four youths aged between 16 and 17 to have sex with them. The two journalists, who face three-year prison sentences, told Vasilya Inoyatova of the Uzbek human rights organisation E’zguilik when he visited them on 27 May that they did know these youths. Mamankulov has not been charged.Sarapulov was previously arrested on 22 February and interrogated by police for two days about copies of press articles taken from an opposition website which he had on him, and about leaflets produced by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a banned Islamist party, which according to Sarapulov were planted among his belongings when he was not looking. A file was opened on Sarapulov for alleged attempt to overthrow the constitutional order.Sharipov, who is a former correspondent for the Russian news agency Prima-News, was physically attacked and threatened because of his journalist activity several times in 2001 and 2002.Meanwhile, Elmira Khassanova, a journalist with the state TV’s fourth channel, was dismissed on 24 May for publicly protesting against censorship of the state-owned television. She had participated in a demonstration outside state TV headquarters in Tashkent on 20 May that was organised by the president of the Human Rights Organisation of Uzbekistan, Elena Urlaeva, to protest against the dismissal of the fourth channel’s news director, Ahmadjon Ibrahimov.Ibrahimov was fired because of a live broadcast that showed President Karimov in a poor light during a conference of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 4 May. While other journalists also objected to his dismissal, Khassanova was the only one to take part in the demonstration, at which she carried a placard saying, “No to censorship of Uzbek television.”The day after the demonstration, her programme was removed from the schedule. Then, on 24 May, the station’s management fired her for “destructive activity against the Uzbek President” after unsuccessfully pressuring her to resign on the grounds or poor work. Following international pressure, Khassanova was allowed to return to work on 26 May. UzbekistanEurope – Central Asia Uzbek blogger facing possible 10-year jail term News New press freedom predators elected to UN Human Rights Council News to go further Organisation last_img read more