For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014

Today, eight U.S. Senators wrote to Uzbek President Islam Karimov and raised the continued imprisonment of journalists and activists in Uzbekistan. Following-up on letters from June 2013 and May 2014, the initiative lead by Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) highlights the imprisonment of five individual prisoners of conscience who are serving long sentences in response to their peaceful activities: Akzam Turgunov, Dilmurod Saidov, Salijon Abdurakhmanov, Muhammad Bekjanov, and Bobomurod Razzokov. Signatories to the letter also included Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA), and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

In the attached letter, the senators note that “Over the past few years, Uzbekistan has worked to build a closer relationship with the United States, a trend we would like to see sustained particularly in light of next month’s annual bilateral consultation meetings. Unfortunately, the lack of progress toward resolving these cases is an impediment to further cooperation between our two countries.” In seeking the immediate humanitarian release of the imprisoned activists, the senators emphasize that such an act “would help to further relations between our countries.”

We welcome this important initiative that calls for accountability and respect for the rule of law and human rights in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek government is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the imprisonment of individuals for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and religion is a flagrant violation of international law. We therefore join the senators in calling for the immediate release of Messrs. Turgunov, Saidov, Abdurakhmanov, Bekjanov, and Razzokov.