RFE/RL journalists, many of them freelancers, suffered direct repercussions as a result of their work on 19 occasions this year.
The incidents range from harassment by police to beatings, death threats, detention and prison. In addition, RFE/RL language service bureaus experienced interference with their operations, including threats of closure and disruption of communications networks.
RFE/RL’s incident record tracks with the findings of major media and human rights advocacy groups that rate Azerbaijan, Belarus and Turkmenistan as deeply hostile to media freedom…
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]
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]