Target: Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov
Goal: Secure immediate release of independent journalist Sergei Naumov
The National Security Service of Uzbekistan recently detained independent journalist Sergei Naumov, and is now refusing to acknowledge that he is being held in custody, despite extensive evidence to the contrary. This is an act of “enforced disappearance,” and a clear violation of international law. Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long string of such government-sponsored kidnappings of Uzbek journalists and activists. President Islam Karimov should immediately order Naumov’s release, and end this trend of enforced disappearances.
Immediately prior to his disappearance, Naumov had been shooting footage for an exposè of child labor violations in government-owned Uzbek cotton fields. Witnesses reported that, shortly after returning home from filming, Naumov was confronted by authorities, who questioned and threatened to jail him, before taking him away from his home. The National Security Service has since denied that such a confrontation occurred, despite eyewitness testimony and a text from Naumov from around the same time which suggest the confrontation happened.
Naumov’s disappearance is highly reminiscent of that of Hasan Choriev, a peaceful political activist who “disappeared” in police custody in 2010, and was held without charge or trial for several weeks. Similarly, in 2012 Uzbek authorities detained and beat child labor crusader Uktam Pardaev for fifteen days. In both cases, the men suffered from numerous health problems following their release.
International law explicitly prohibits authorities from holding individuals without trial or acknowledgement. These “enforced disappearances” can only cause dissent to increase as individuals rebel against a tyrannical government. We must push President Islam Karimov to order the release of Sergei Naumov from prison as soon as possible, and guarantee his access to any required medical attention. Finally, Uzbekistan should amend its laws to prevent these abuses of authority from occurring in the future.
Dear President Islam Karimov,
Members of the Uzbek National Security Service were recently implicated in the arrest of independent journalist Sergei Nuamov, who was involved in the production of a child-labor documentary shortly before his arrest. However, when confronted with Nuamov’s disappearance authorities refused to acknowledge his arrest, and have presumably been holding him without sentence or trial ever since.
Needless to say, you must order the National Security Service to release Nuamov immediately. The government should also take immediate measures to prevent these “forced disappearances” in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: Lee Honeycutt via Wikimedia Commons