Rights activist released after 10-year imprisonment in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT (TCA) — A jailed Uzbek human rights activist, Azam Farmonov, whose 2006 extortion conviction was widely seen as politically motivated, has been released from the notorious Jaslyq prison in northern Uzbekistan, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent hailed Farmonov’s October 3 release and said that “The United States welcomes the release of human rights defender Azam Farmonov. The news follows the release of Muhammad Bekjanov, Murod Juraev, Erkin Musaev, Jamshid Karimov, and other long-held prisoners of conscience. We applaud these positive steps and hope they signal future releases and a more open approach to civil society. Multiple international human rights groups have highlighted the long incarceration of Azam Farmonov on dubious charges in 2006, and the UN Commission against Torture in 2013 called for Farmonov’s release. The United States acknowledges President Mirzoyoyev’s commitment to strengthening human rights protections in Uzbekistan, as stated in his address at the United Nations, and we look forward to sustained stability and progress towards broad political, social, and human rights reforms.”

Farmonov, 40, was convicted and sentenced to 9.5 years in jail in 2006.

He led a branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan in the eastern Syrdaryo region at the time of his arrest, which supporters say was the main reason for the trumped-up charges used to have him imprisoned.

Weeks before he was due to be released in 2016, his prison term was extended by five years and 26 days for what the authorities said was “bad behavior while in custody.”

Sergey Kwan