International Partnership for Human Rights welcomes the release today of human rights defender Azam Farmonov from prison in Uzbekistan. Farmonov worked at the Gulistan branch of the independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan. He has spent 11 years in prison after being found guilty of extortion in an unfair trial in 2006. The charges were widely agreed to be politically-motivated in retaliation for his work defending the rights of farmers and those with disabilities. He was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in pre-trial detention and has always maintained his innocence.
He is understood to be in very poor health and in need of urgent medical treatment but we are happy that he will be reunited with his family.
In 2015, Azam Farmonov’s original prison sentence was arbitrarily extended in a closed trial by another five years for alleged infringement of prison rules.
Since President Mirziyoyev came to power, four people imprisoned on politically-motivated grounds have been released after completing their sentences: Bobomurad Razzokov; Samandar Kukanov ; Rustam Usmanov; Muhammad Bekjanov. Jamshid Karimov, nephew of the late President Karimov was released from a psychiatric hospital where he had been forcibly held since 2006. Additionally, on 22nd August 2017, Erkin Musaev, former Uzbek government official and UN employee, was released from prison after serving 11 years of a 20 year politically motivated sentence.
We welcome these releases but are aware that many other human rights defenders and journalists however remain behind bars, such as Isroil Kholdarov (HRSU), Agzam Turgunov (Human Rights Centre Mazlum) ; Fakhriddin Tillaev (HRC Mazlum); Ganikhon Mamatkanov (Committee for protection of individual rights Uzbekistan); Yusuf Ruzimuradov (journalist for former opposition newspaper “Erk”) and Dilorom Abdukodirova, witness of the Andijan tragedy in 2005.
The Uzbekistani authorities should immediately and unconditionally release these and all others who have been imprisoned on politically motivated grounds in order to demonstrate their serious commitment to the protection of fundamental rights as set out in the constitution.