Interview with Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva: In 1995, WLUML’s sister organization in Pakistan, Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre, published an English translation of Between the Slogans of Communism and the Laws of Islam by Marfua Tokhtakhodjaeva, which is available on the WLUML website here. The original appeared in Russian in 1992, just one year after the collapse of the USSR and the creation of an independent state of Uzbekistan. The book looks at the Sovietisation of Central Asia and argues that from 1917 the Soviet attitude to religion was confrontational and its goal was to destroy the Muslim religion through misleading tactics: while slogans regarding freedom of conscience were pronounced by the authorities, there were secretive directives ordering the suppression of the clergy.

UN Special Rapporteur Rahisda Manjoo has published a thirty four page report on violence again women its causes and consequences. During the period under review, the Special Rapporteur requested invitations to visit Somalia, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe. Earlier requests for country visits had also been made to the Governments of Jordan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Special Rapporteurs typically send a letter to the Government requesting to visit the country, and, if the Government agrees, an invitation to visit is extended. Some countries have issued "standing invitations", which means that they are, in principle, prepared to receive a visit from any special procedures mandate holder. 

In Uzbekistan it seems that promoting condoms and sterile needles to stop the spread of HIV is "immoral" and deserving of imprisonment in its notorious jails. The country, ruled by dictator Islam Karimov – andrecently lambasted by the UN Human Rights Committee – has given one of its leading Aids workers a seven-year sentence.

How can a photographer defame her country? Uzbekistan tried to answer that question this week in a slander trial that harked back to the days of Soviet censorship. The answer, in part: by showing people with sour expressions or bowed heads, children in ragged clothing, old people begging for change or other images so dreary that, according to a panel of experts convened by the prosecutors, “a foreigner unfamiliar with Uzbekistan will conclude that this is a country where people live in the Middle Ages.” Umida Akhmedova, a photographer and documentary filmmaker, was found guilty on Wednesday of slandering and insulting the Uzbek people, in a case that has stirred outrage in artistic circles throughout the region. Though the charges carried a prison sentence of up to three years, the judge waived the penalties, saying that Ms. Akhmedova had been granted an amnesty in honor of the 18th anniversary of Uzbek independence. Update on Uzbekistan: Ahmedova charged with defamation against Uzbek nation

“The Burden of Virginity” deals with the tradition that young women must maintain chastity until marriage, and shows the story of a girl driven from the bridegroom’s home in shame. The film was funded by the Swiss embassy in Tashkent and released in May 2009. WLUML has written a brief summary of the narrative of the documentary film, which has not yet been subtitled in English.

Police in Uzbekistan are compiling an unusual criminal case against one of the country’s leading photographers, Umida Ahmedova. The charge is defamation, and the insulted party is the population of Uzbekistan. IWPR has learned that Ahmedova was required to sign an undertaking not to leave the country by a police investigator on January 13. A month earlier, she was charged with defamation and with harming Uzbekistan's reputation, RFE/RL radio reported. The case against her is based on two articles of the criminal code, carrying penalties of up to six months in jail. Update on Uzbekistan: Woman Human Rights Defender Umida Ahmedova Facing Charges

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan. The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment faced by Ms. Umida Ahmedova, a women human rights defender, photographer and film-maker from Uzbekistan.  According to the information received, on December 16, 2009, Ms. Umida Ahmedova was informed by the Mirobod Department of Internal Affairs that she was facing charges of “slander” and “insult” (respectively Articles 139 and 140 of the Uzbek Criminal Code) of the Uzbek people.

More and more Uzbeks are marrying according to the Muslim rite but without going through the civil registration process. Commentators note that unless a marriage is officially recognised, wives in particular enjoy few legal protections.
Une femme ouzbèke emprisonnée, défenseure des droits de l'homme, remporte le Prix Martin Ennals 2008‏
Mrs. Mutabar Tadjibaeva from Uzbekistan was arrested after having criticized the government’s handling of the massacre in Andijan, three years ago in May 2005. She has been awarded this human rights defenders prize in absentia.
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