A a new code of conduct for Uzbek university students was released this month.
Loafing around, that time-honored pastime of college students everywhere, is verboten. “Don’t walk around a university campus with no reason,” the rulebook advises.
How all of this contributes to the effort against religious extremism and drug addiction is never quite made clear…[READ MORE]
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service found itself part of the news while covering the mysterious death of a university student who had purportedly killed herself after being released from police custody. The convoluted story includes a suicide hoax, an assassination plot, and online social activism, which began unraveling as Radio Ozodlik uncovered the real story behind Uzbek activist “Gulsumoi Abdujalilova,” a figment whose virtual trail leads to more questions than answers.
In Kazakhstan, Radio Azattyk has been praised for its strong coverage of deadly protests in the western cities of Zhetibai and Zhanaozen. From the first videos of police driving back striking oil workers to current police lockdowns, RFE/RL’s Kazakh service has been providing key information under an intense media blackout.
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When Obitkhoja O., a 17-year old Uzbek boy, was arrested in 2009 for alleged petty theft, he had little idea what kind of police interrogation he was in for. Officers handcuffed his wrists and ankles and tossed him around in the air; he was kicked repeatedly in the head while bound to a chair; and police tied a gas mask tightly around his head to induce asphyxiation.
Obitkhoja’s story is just one of many that appear in a groundbreaking new report from Human Rights Watch, “No One Left to Witness,” documenting the deterioration of basic rights in the secretive nation of Uzbekistan. The report is based on hundreds of first-hand interviews with Uzbek human rights activists, lawyers, and government officials. It paints a grim portrait of a regime in which brutal torture is routinely employed as a pre-trial detention procedure for both political prisoners and common criminals…
Steve Swerdlow, a researcher for Human Rights Watch and the author of the report, visited RFE/RL’s Prague offices December 9 to discuss the report’s findings. He says that torture has become a vehicle for advancement among members of the country’s security services…[Read More]
Soaring fuel prices; electricity rationing; early snow — it’s enough to send people scurrying for alternative ways to heat their homes and cook their meals.
In some parts of Central Asia, however, “alternative” doesn’t necessarily mean clean burning or eco-friendly. In Uzbekistan, cheap is the operative word, and that means things can get downright, well, earthy.
“Coal is fuel for rich people only,” says Eshmurod-Aka, a resident of Uzbekistan’s Qashqadaryo province. “Animal manure is the only fuel we use now.”
For years, Uzbek authorities have denied widespread reports that children are sent to the fields to pick cotton every harvest season.
Now viewers can see for themselves, thanks to video footage collected by human rights activists and sent to RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service. There is no denying that the school-age children in the video are picking cotton and carrying heavy sacks on their shoulders. Determining whether they were taken away from their studies or forced to work in the fields proves more difficult…[READ MORE]