Posted on | september 21, 2012 | No Comments
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
I came to know about the situation from Front Line Defenders.
On 14 September 2012, human rights defender Mr Farhodhon Muhtarov was arrested and ill-treated by police in the city of Bishkek. He was detained in the local police station but released later that day. Up until December 2010 when he fled Uzbekistan and applied for political asylum in Kyrgyzstan, Farhodhon Muhtarov worked with the grassroots movement Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, which works on a variety of human rights issues including torture, access to justice, the right to a fair trial, economic and social rights, and the rights of vulnerable groups.
On 14 September, police broke down the door of Farhodhon Muhtarov’s apartment, beat him and verbally insulted him and members of his family. The police did not produce an arrest warrant, nor did they provide any explanation for the human rights defender’s arrest until he was in the police car on the way to police station, when he was told he would be extradited to Uzbekistan due to a request made by the Uzbek authorities. Farhodhon Muhtarov produced the identification card he had been given by the Kyrgyz authorities stating that he had applied for asylum, but the arresting officers refused to take it into consideration, claiming that the ID was fake. At no stage was the human rights defender provided with any official documents or explanations regarding the reasons for his arrest.
Following the arrest, several local human rights defenders went to the police station to intervene on Farhodhon Muhtarov’s behalf. They highlighted the arbitrary nature of the arrest and police released him several hours later. However, police officials are denying him and his family access to their apartment and they have changed the locks. Reportedly, these officials have verbally demanded money from Farhodhon Muhtarov in return for allowing him back into his home. Moreover, police officials who remained to search the apartment after Farhodhon Muhtarov’s arrest seized documents and electronic goods, including a laptop computer and a video recorder.
In 2009, Farhodhon Muhtarov was sentenced to 5 years in prison in Uzbekistan on trumped-up charges of fraud. In December 2010, his sentence was changed to forced labour. The change of sentence gave Farhodhon Muhtarov the opportunity to flee Uzbekistan for Kyrgyzstan, where he applied for political asylum. He also filed an application for asylum to the UNHCR, but there has not yet been any decision made on either of these applications.
In light of its arbitrary nature,I believe that the arrest of Farhodhon Muhtarov may be linked to his human rights activities in Uzbekistan.
I urge the authorities in Kyrgyzstan to:
1. Ensure that human rights defender Farhodhon Muhtarov and his family are given immediate access to their home and compensated for any damage caused during the arrest;
2. Ensure that any objects seized from Farhodhon Muhtarov’s apartment following his arrest are immediately returned;
3. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the arrest of Farhodhon Muhtarov and the allegations that he was beaten during the carrying out of the arrest, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
4. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of Farhodhon Muhtarov and his family members;
5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
AUTHOR: William Nicholas Gomes
E-MAIL: williamgomes.org [at] gmail.com