Djamshid Karimov

Djamshid Karimov, a journalist known for being an outspoken critic of the Uzbek government, and for reporting on socio-political issues in his country, has now been held against his will in a psychiatric hospital for over eighteen months.


The son of President Karimov’s elder brother who died in 1991, Djamshid Karimov has worked as a freelance journalist and for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). He has also contributed to a number of independent newspapers and online publications, including the Almaty-based online newspaper Liter and the Moscow-based Central Asia news website, under the pseudonym Andrei Nazarov. He has often written about social, political and economic issues, including corruption and abuses by local officials.


After reporting on the Andijan demonstrations and massacre in May 2005, during a period when his uncle systematically sought to silence all independent voices of protest, Karimov was watched closely by the authorities. In August 2006, his family complained of intense police surveillance and their long-distance telephone connection was cut, whilst his elderly mother, Margarita Karimova, reportedly demanded of the authorities, unsuccessfully, that listening devices be removed from their property. Also in August, Karimov’s passport was seized by the authorities in Jizzakh Province after he applied for an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The authorities may have feared that he was planning to go into exile – an action which, as the President’s nephew, would have caused international embarrassment.


On 31 August 2006, the head of the regional administration in Jizzakh, Ubaidulla Yamankulov, visited the family home and offered Karimov positions at the state newspapers Mulkdor and Tasvir. Karimov refused the offer and shortly afterwards, on 12 September 2006, he disappeared.


Two weeks after his initial disappearance, Karimov’s friends were able to ascertain that he was being held against his will in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand, initially under a 6-month detention order from the Jizakkh town court. The authorities would not specify the reason for his detention, calling it a ‘private matter’. His fiancée was permitted to visit him and found him distressed by his detention under difficult conditions (poor food, no hot water). Karimov had also reportedly been forced to accept unnecessary treatment with anti-psychotics, which it is feared may in fact damage his health.


At the beginning of February 2007, Djamshid Karimov’s fiancée (who was both visiting him and in contact with international organizations, including PEN) was beaten by three unknown assailants in the street outside her house.


Karimov’s detention order was ‘reviewed’ on 15 March 2007 and extended for another 6 months until September 2007. However, the authorities disclosed no further details. On 21 May, reports were issued that Karimov had died in detention, but following interventions by the British and US embassies, these reports were found to be malicious disinformation.


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 to his family that he would soon be discharged, Karimov remains incarcerated, and has now been undergoing this forced treatment for over 18 months. Furthermore, local authorities have reportedly demanded that his family refrain from giving any further interviews and suspend all contact with the media, which has led to fears that his case could soon be forgotten.


If Karimov’s detention is politically motivated, as we strongly believe, then diplomatic concern expressed at the highest level may encourage the Uzbek authorities to authorize his release. At a minimum, it may prompt them to improve his conditions in psychiatric detention and to leave his elderly mother and fiancée alone.


Consequently, English PEN continues to urge its members to call for the immediate release of Karimov, an Honorary Member of English PEN, by writing to the Uzbek Ambassador in London:


HE Mr Tukhtapulat Tursunovich Riskiev
41 Holland Park

W11 3RP


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