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Uzbekistan: Human rights defender Ms Umida Akhmedova facing trial following peaceful demonstration
On 30 January 2014, photographer and human rights defender Ms Umida Akhmedova was released after being held incommunicado for one day. The human rights defender, together with her son Mr Timur Karpov and five other persons, now stands accused of taking part in an unauthorised demonstration on 27 January 2014 in solidarity with Ukrainian protesters outside the Ukrainian embassy in Tashkent.
Umida Akhmedova is a film-maker and photographer who concentrates her work on gender issues in particular. Her son Timur Karpov is also a photographer and works for the Lenta.Ru press agency.
On 29 January 2014, at approximately 7:30pm, five police officers came to the house of Umida Akhmedova and Timur Karpov, produced summonses for both to appear for questioning at an internal affairs directorate in the Khamza district of Tashkent, and arrested them. Five other demonstrators, namely Messrs Aleksei Ulko, Ashot Danielyan, Ilgar Gasymov, Artem Ludny and Ms Gulsum Osmanova were also arrested. That evening, Timur Karpov sent a text message to his father stating that the group were being held in Khamza district police station, despite the fact that officials had told his sister that the group had been allowed to go home. The group's whereabouts remained officially unknown until 30 January 2014, and no information regarding charges against them or access to legal counsel was forthcoming.
On 30 January 2014, Timur Karpov was ordered to pay a fine of 2 MLN (around 740 EUR) under Article 201 of the Code of Administrative Convictions on holding meetings and demonstrations. Three of the other protesters, Aleksei Ulko, Ashot Danielyan and Artem Ludny, received 15 days of administrative detention for their participation in an unauthorised demonstration. There is no information about the charges against the other members of the group.
During the rally outside the Ukrainian embassy on 27 January 2014, the seven participants submitted a petition in support of the so-called Euromaydan protests. They further demanded the resignation of the Ukrainian Prime Minister Mr Mykola Azarov, expressed support for the Ukrainian people who they say are acting against an “inhumane, corrupt and totalitarian regime,” and condemned the unwillingness of the Ukrainian authorities to engage in constructive dialogue.
In Uzbekistan, holding unsanctioned assemblies and rallies is punishable by arrest, fines and even imprisonment; however, receiving official permission to hold demonstrations is nigh on impossible. The regulatory process is such that the principle of proportionality with regard to freedom of assembly is consistently breached with the result that this freedom is almost non-existent in the country.
Front Line Defenders previously issued an urgent appeal about Umida Akhmedova on 22 December 2009.
Front Line Defenders is concerned at the charges against Umida Akhmedova and the rest of the group of protesters as they are solely related to the exercise of their legitimate right to freedom of assembly and the defence of human rights internationally.