Djamshid Karimov (Uzbekistan)

Djamshid Karimov, nephew of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, is an outspoken critic of the government, known for reporting on socio-politial issues. He worked as a freelance journalist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and contributed to independent newspapers and online publications under the pseudonym Andrei Nazarov.

After reporting on the Andjian massacre in May 2005, during a period when his uncle systematically sought to silence all independent voices of protest, Karimov and his family were subjected to intense political surveillance. In August 2006, after applying for an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan, Karimov’s passport was seized by the authorities. The head of the regional administration in Jizak visited the family home on 31 August, and offered Karimov positions at two state newspapers, apparently in a bid to entice him away from independent journalism. He refused and shortly afterwards, on 12 September, he disappeared.

Two weeks later, Karimov’s friends discovered that he was benig held against his will in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand, initially under a six-month detention order. The authorities would not specify the reason for his detention, calling it a ‘private matter’. His fiancee was permitted to visit him and found him distressed by his detention; he had reportedly been forced to accept unnecessary treatment and anti-psychotic medication.

Karimov’s detention order was ‘reviewed’ in March 2007 and extended for six months, but authorities disclosed no further details. Since then, as far as his family knows, the court has not officially passed a decision to further extend Karimov’s treatment. Nonetheless, despite regular promises that he would soon be discharged, he remains incarcerated and unreachable. Karimov has now been undergoing forced treatment for almost five years.

If Karimov’s detention is politically motivated, as
we firmly believe it to be, then diplomatic concern expressed at the highest
level may encourage the Uzbek authorities to authorise his release. We are therefore urging all members and friends of English PEN to send letters of appeal calling for his immediate release to the Uzbek Ambassador in London:

His Excellency Mr. Otabek Akbarov
Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan
41 Holland Park,
W11 3RP

Fax: 020 7229 7029

Djamshid Karimov is one of the 50 symbolic cases chosen for inclusion in ‘Beyond Bars: 50 Years of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee’, a special issue of Index on Censorship (issue 04/2010) produced in partnership with English PEN to mark the 50th anniversary of the WiPC (pp207-208).

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