Tag Archives: civil rights

Tajikistan acting as route for Turkey to send Uighurs to China -media

DUSHANBE/JULY 26 (The Bulletin) — Tajikistan is acting as a secret channel for Turkey to deport Uighurs to China where they are interned in so-called re-education camps, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The newspaper quoted lawyers in Turkey and family members of deported Uighurs who said that China was making hundreds of demands on Turkish authorities to deport Uighurs and that they were now using third countries, such as Tajikistan, to deport them.

The Telegraph documented how 59-year-old Uighur widow Aimuzi Kuwanhan, who had fled China for Turkey, had disappeared suddenly.

“A lawyer hired by her family subsequently discovered that she had been extradited to Tajikistan, despite having never lived there or having held Tajik citizenship. Sources who knew Kuwanhan say from there she was sent to China,” the Telegraph reported.

Turkey has denied the reports and Tajikistan has not commented but there has been an increase in the number of media and online reports from Istanbul of Turkish police and authorities detaining known Uighur activists this year.

Turkey, like Tajikistan’s neighbours — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan — has a sizeable ethnic Uighur population and it would have been politically impossible to deport them directly to China. Tajikistan, though, has close connections with China but no ethnic Uighur population. The plight of the Uighurs, and other Muslim minorities, in China’s Xinjiang province is not a major discussion point in Tajikistan.

This means that while Turkey has a policy of not sending Uighurs back to China, under pressure from various bilateral agreements that it has signed with Beijing, it could send them to Tajikistan. The authorities there would be able to send them on to China.

Over the past decade, Tajikistan has developed close relations with China relying on cheap loans from Beijing to upgrade its Soviet-era infrastructure and give its towns and cities facelifts. These loans have come with major political influence too and Tajikistan can now be relied upon by China to act as a loyal ally.


— This story was published in issue 455 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 31 2020.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Uzbekistan tweaks hated registration system

MARCH 19 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s government unveiled a new registration system for people wanting to live and work in Tashkent which will replace the Soviet ‘propiska’ system that was so hateD. The ‘propiska’ system made it expensive, time-consuming and  complicated for people to move to Tashkent from regional Uzbekistan. Earlier this year, the government said that it wanted to change this system. Now it has published a new set of rules which will force people moving to Tashkent to register with the police, as before, but also allow them to roll over temporary permits more easily. The Uzbek government wants to liberalise Soviet control systems.


— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Uzbekistan registers first local NGO for 17 years

MARCH 11 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan has registered its first local human rights groups since 2003, Steve Swerdlow of the New York-based Human Rights Group said. He said that Huquqi Tayanch, which means legal support in Uzbek, had been registered as an NGO on March 9 and that Mercy Corps, a US NGO focused on poverty relief, was registered on March 11.


— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Mirziyoyev orders closure of “torture” prison

Aug. 5 (The Bulletin) — Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered the closure of a notorious prison in an isolated part of the Karakalpakstan region which had become synonymous with torture under his predecessor, Islam Karimov. The jail, which was freezing in winter and boiling in summer, had earned the nickname ‘The House of Horror’. Pres. Mirziyoyev has been trying to improve Uzbekistan’s reputation since he took over from Karimov in 2016.

— This story was first published in issue 418 of the weekly Bulletin

Woman charged over anti-China demonstrations

JAN. 23 (The Conway Bulletin) — A Kyrgyz woman has become the first person to be charged with a crime linked to anti-Chinese demonstrations that have grown in size in Bishkek over the past month. Radio Free Europe reported that Guljamila Saparalieva had been charged with inciting racial hatred. She was one of a dozen protesters who had gathered in Bishkek on Jan. 17 to protest against the growing number of Chinese migrants working in the country and also about China’s anti-Muslim policies in its northwest region. China is a key economic partner for Kyrgyzstan.

>This story was first published in issue 398 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 31 2019
Copyright The Conway Bulletin 2019

Uzbekistan frees businessman from prison

TASHKENTJAN. 8 (The Conway Bulletin) — The authorities in Uzbekistan have freed from prison businessman Mirodil Jalolov, former CEO of Zeromax — once the country’s biggest company.

His wife told RFE/RL that a court released Mr Mirodli after a short hearing linked to corruption charges. In 2010, when a closed-court jailed him, the charges against Mr Mirodli were not released.

Zeromax had once been an all-powerful conglomerate with stakes in a range of assets across Uzbekistan from mining, to football, to logistics. Analysts had said Zeromax was ultimately owned by Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Islam Karimov, the former Uzbek president.

She has been in jail since 2014 when she was arrested on various corruption charges. Her father died in 2016.

Mr Mirodli was arrested in 2010 shortly after the Uzbek government took control of Zeromax. It said it had seized Zeromax’s assets because it owed its creditors $500m. Some analysts saw the move as a revolt by rival regime members and the first public sign of decline for the once all-powerful Karimov family.

>>This story was first published in issue 396 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 11 2019

Imam flees Uzbekistan after opposing headscarf ban

DEC. 20 (The Conway Bulletin) – Fazliddin Parpiyev, an imam at a Tashkent mosque, said that he had fled Uzbekistan after the security services questioned him over his statements earlier this year that a headscarf ban in schools should be lifted). Imam Parpiyev did not say where he had fled to but his statements will embarrass President Shavkat Mirziyoyev who has said that he wants to build a more inclusive society.


>>This story was first published in issue 395 of The Conway Bulletin on Dec. 23 2018

Freedom House says rights in Central Asia and the South Caucasus worsened in 2016

JAN. 31 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — In its annual report mapping out the status of just how free people are to express themselves, the US-based NGO Freedom House said that in 2016 the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus cracked down on civil liberties.

Freedom House rates Georgia as the best place for civil liberties in the region, with a “Partly Free” status. It also gave this ranking to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The others were ranked “Not Free” with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan listed as two of the most repressive regimes in the world.

“Apparently unnerved by the repercussions of a lengthy slump in oil prices, the rulers of Azerbaijan and the Central Asian states used tightly controlled constitutional referendums to extend their rule into the future,” Freedom House wrote.

The Freedom House assessment of civil rights broadly mirrors the assessment of human rights groups who have been warning of worsening conditions in the region.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 315, published on Feb. 3 2017)

Azerbaijan’s court jails activist

JAN. 16 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — A court in Azerbaijan sentenced Elgiz Gahraman, a 31-year-old opposition youth activist, to 5-1/2 years in prison for drug-related offences. The New York- based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that in August 2016 Gahraman had been taken by police to a station in Baku, beaten and forced to sign a confession that he had been carrying heroin and intended to sell it. HRW has accused the Azerbaijani authorities of using bogus charges to imprison people it considers to be troublemakers.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 313, published on Jan. 20 2017)

EITI tells Azerbaijan that civil society must be improved

ALMATY, OCT. 26 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — The Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global lobby group which effectively acts as an ethical watchdog for countries with economies that rely heavily on mining, oil and gas, said it will expel Azerbaijan from the organisation if it fails to reform its NGO laws within four months.

The Oslo-based EITI is influential because Western investment is often linked to compliance with its various rules. If Azerbaijan was kicked out of the group, it would threaten vital foreign investment deals.

Last year, the EITI downgraded Azerbaijan’s membership because of what it said was a crackdown on civil society.

At a meeting in Kazakhstan, the EITI said that Azerbaijan had improved some aspects of its economy and society, in line with recommendations drawn up last year during a so-called Validation process, but that more needed to be done to retain its membership.

“Azerbaijan has made important progress in opening up the oil sector and I am encouraged to hear about the recent plans for government reforms towards more transparency,” Fredrik Reinfeldt, chair of the EITI, said in a statement.

“I hope that the government will continue its recent efforts to ensure that civil society can play its proper role in this process, otherwise this progress risks being overshadowed.”

If Azerbaijan fails to keep its EITI membership, investment for its Southern Gas Corridor, a pipeline network that will pump gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe, will be at risk.

Specifically, in September the EBRD said it would reconsider a $1.5b loan for the TANAP pipeline, part of the Southern Gas Corridor that Azerbaijan is building to pump gas from the Caspian Sea to Turkey, if Azerbaijan was kicked out of the EITI.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 302, published on Oct. 28 2016)