When I lived in Uzbekistan and worked for human rights organizations, I monitored many trials. Young men and women faced criminal charges and were accused of extremism and attempt to overthrow the existing regime.
Almost all of the defendants said that they were tortured in order to confess their guilt. Sitting in the courtrooms, I listened to so many different stories of different people, they shared only one pain, suffering, and forced confession. In all cases, torture was sanctioned by the investigators from the police or from the National Security Service.
Today, the situation is even worse. Uzbek authorities just kicked out international organizations and restrict any access to the courtrooms. Uzbek authorities believe if there is no information – there is no problem. From time to time we receive information about the death of another prisoner or serious illness of human rights defenders who sit in prison. However, the authorities have never conducted a proper investigation and did not explain the cause of deaths.
One of the most sophisticated methods of torture is being used – which is the extension of detention. You can imagine what it means for a prisoner who is waiting for his release after ten years of imprisonment, and just shortly before he should be released, he finds out that his term is extended. The term of imprisonment for the former government critic and politician Murod Jurayev has been extended five times. Each time for another 2 or 3 years.
President Karimov, Chairman of the National Security Service, and other people who run Uzbekistan think that by using violence they will achieve obedience and silence from the people. Everything should be calm, and stability should be everywhere. Indeed, people in Uzbekistan are too much oppressed, so it is difficult to expect any resistance from them. Ordinary people seem to be too weak, and the state with its corrupt gangster regime looks too strong. But we have the greatest advantage. We tell the truth, we stand for universal values, and those who torture people in Uzbekistan today – they are the criminals.