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Uzbekistan8 June 2005

Journalist imprisoned in Karshi amid mounting pressure on independent media

Reporters Without Borders today condemned as "abusive" the imprisonment of freelance journalist Tulkin Karaev, a contributor to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), who was arrested in the southern city of Karshi on 4 June after being assaulted on the street and was then jailed on a charge of hooliganism without any form of trial.

"President Islam Karimov is showing that he is still bent on keeping his country under the yoke of authoritarian rule from another age, despite last month’s terrible events in Andijan and although the social and political situation continues to be explosive," the press freedom organisation said.

"The government appears to have decided to silence all dissenting voices by waging a witch-hunt," Reporters Without Borders continued. "This freelance journalist was just trying to report the dramatic human rights situation in Uzbekistan. We appeal to the European Union and the United States to put pressure on the President Karimov to release Tulkin Karaev at once and to end these unacceptable press freedom violations."

After Karaev was attacked by an unidentified person on a Karshi street on 4 June, the authorities accused him of hooliganism and order him imprisoned for a period of at least 10 days. Human rights activist Gaybulla Djalilov, who was with him at the time, said this kind of attack is a ploy often used by the authorities to detain dissidents.

Karaev’s apartment had been constantly under police surveillance since the 13 May events in Andijan and some of his friends were interrogated in an attempt to get information about him.

Married and the father of two children, Karaev is one of Karshi’s last independent journalists. He has written many articles on political and social issues in Uzbekistan for the IWPR, an international organisation that defends the news media.

An article headlined "Defence of the national sovereignty of the Uzbek people" on 25 May in the state-owned daily Pravda Vostoka called for the writers and photographers contributing to the IWPR to be named on national television. The IWPR and other human rights groups have been the target of attacks in the Russian and Uzbek state press ever since they reported the massacre of hundreds of civilians by the Uzbek security forces.

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