Uzbekistan: condemn torture of Elena Urlaeva
Member organizations of the Civic Solidarity Platform have been deeply disturbed and shocked to learn of Uzbek authorities’ degrading and perverse treatment of well-known Uzbekistani human rights activist Elena Urlaeva on Sunday 31 May 2015.
For years, Elena Urlaeva of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan has been a fearless voice challenging one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. As numerous Uzbek human rights activists have been imprisoned or forced to flee into exile, Urlaeva has continued to work from inside the country, continuously facing harassment and sometimes violence at government hands.
On 31 May, Urlaeva was documenting the use of child labor in cotton fields outside the town of Chinaz, some 50 kilometers outside of Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. She had been collecting photographic evidence of the practice, for which Uzbekistan has widely condemned internationally, when she was detained by local police.
According to Urlaeva, police demanded that she hand over the memory card from her camera. Refusing to do so, she was held down by male police while a female doctor searched her vagina and rectum for the memory card, using an instrument that caused her bleeding. Urlaeva said she was given sedatives before the search. Police also made Urlaeva to relieve herself outside the police building, while filming and threatening to post the video online if she complained about her treatment. The interrogation and mistreatment lasted for 18 hours.
We, the members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, are shocked by and condemn the brutal treatment of our colleague and friend. Urlaeva’s ordeal clearly amounts to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and represents a blatant violation of the international human rights obligations of Uzbekistan. We keep in contact with Urlaeva, and have learnt that she is currently undergoing treatment after the abuse.
The Civic Solidarity Platform urges Uzbekistani authorities to launch an immediate and impartial investigation into the torture and ill-treatment of human rights defender Elena Urlaeva by officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Chinaz and ensure that the guilty are brought to justice. Authorities must also ensure that Elena Urlaeva suffers no further retributions or reprisals for speaking out about the abuse she suffered.
We call on the international community to send a strong message of condemnation to Uzbekistan and to stand with Elena Urlaeva and the few remaining activists in the country who continue to work for the benefit of their fellow citizens and their inaliable human rights.
Baryz Zvozkau Belarusian Human Rights House
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Civil Liberties
Center for National and International Studies
Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Helsinki Committee of Armenia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Movement Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
Index on Censorship
International Partnership for Human Rights
Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and Rule of Law
KRF Public Alternative
Moscow Helsinki Group
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Office of Civil Freedoms
Promo LEX Moldova
Strasbourg Initiative for European Initiativess
Swiss Helsinki Committee