Lawyer Sergei Mayorov sent an appeal to the Ombudswoman of Uzbekistan Feruza Eshmatova from the imprisoned leader of the 2022 Karakalpak protests, Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov. This is the first documentary evidence in which a Karakalpak dissident talks about the conditions of his detention in penal colony No. 11 in Navoi.
The document has the subtitle “Zhaslyk was closed only on paper” (meaning a special colony created during Karimov’s time with especially harsh conditions for holding political prisoners, the closure of which was announced by the authorities in 2019 under international pressure). Tazhimuratov, who is serving his sentence in the “prison department” of KIN-11, writes that this penitentiary institution continues the cruel traditions of Zhaslyk.
The appeal notes that the prison department does not have the status of a separate colony, and according to the conditions of detention, prisoners there are equivalent to those sentenced to life imprisonment. A long visit with relatives is allowed once a year, transfers – twice a year, many products are confiscated from transfers under far-fetched pretexts. Prisoners are not given work.
The document provides numerous facts indicating systematic non-compliance in the KIN-11 prison department with legislative and regulatory acts governing the situation of prisoners in Uzbekistan.
Thus, according to the internal regulations posted in each cell, every day from 9 to 12 o’clock “educational activities” are carried out with prisoners, from 14 to 17:50 – “educational work”, from 19:30 to 21 – “cultural and educational work” . However, as Tazhimuratov writes, all these “events” and “works” are carried out only on paper. “The cells are opened only once a day,” when prisoners are taken out for a walk, while on holidays they are told: “Don’t knock on the door, there will be no walk today.”
Contrary to propaganda publications in the departmental newspaper “Vaqt” of the Main Directorate of Execution of Punishments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the food in prison is of disgusting quality, it is “impossible to touch with your tongue.”
The right to outpatient and inpatient treatment is also violated; “human health is not of great importance” for the administration. Upon admission to KIN-11, Tazhimuratov’s medical examination was carried out only formally. There is “not even one bed for inpatient treatment” in the prison; if you ask a doctor for treatment, he will be “scared.”
The Karakalpak dissident reports that he received a letter from the head of the Committee of Constitutional Control of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Parakhat Aitniyazov, who wrote to him that there is supposedly a lot of legal literature in the prison libraries of Uzbekistan and that one can improve one’s knowledge. However, the library is not available to prisoners in the KIN-11 prison department. Tazhimuratov “took the book twice, but not in the library, but in the office of the squad commander.” In this regard, living conditions in an Uzbek prison are worse than in Soviet prisons, the author of the appeal notes.
According to Article 81 of the Criminal Executive Code, convicts have the right to watch films and television programs and listen to radio broadcasts. However, in reality there is no such opportunity in prison either. Instead of a radio, “there’s something like a DVD player in the hallway” that plays 10 to 15 songs every day.
“Think,” writes Tazhimuratov, “if you listen to Sherali Juraev’s song three or four times in a row, the next ones will get on your nerves. From 6:00 am to 9:30 pm at night it eats the brain like a worm.” He compares it to a “secret torture machine.” In general, “here you don’t know the date or month because they don’t hand out newspapers, the radio is unavailable, and the guards say they don’t know what time it is.”
The premises of the prison building do not meet existing standards, the rays of the sun do not penetrate into the premises even in summer, “what will happen on harsh winter days”? “You will undoubtedly lose your health, this is deliberately aimed at political criminals.”
A prisoner admitted to prison must be provided with a blanket and other items by the administration. But Tazhimuratov has still not been given a bed.
According to existing standards, prisoners must be washed at least once every seven days. “They adhere to this minimum requirement,” Tazhimuratov notes. “However, with such 50-degree heat, it’s hot inside the cell from morning to evening, and you don’t expect it to cool down in the evening.”
As follows from Tazhimuratov’s appeal, after being transferred to the KIN-11 prison department, he was illegally placed in a punishment cell for three hours. “It’s a cage within a cage, there’s a saying that even snakes shouldn’t be in a place like that.” There is not enough air here, no sunlight falls through the barred windows, there is no constant water supply, you wash your face while sitting on the cement floor. “I’ve seen various prisons, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Tazhimuratov notes.
The Karakalpak dissident was then transferred to solitary confinement. Formally, as Tazhimuratov notes, this requires a resolution approved by the prosecutor and a doctor’s opinion, but in this case the law was violated.
“It’s hell in the cell.” “This place looks like the prison of the 18th century Khiva Khanate, but it is not underground.” “I’m not allowed to exercise alone in my cell.” They took the diary. They gave me clothes with the words “punishment cell” written on them, “but I don’t wear them because they are for those who break the law.”
The prisoner’s contacts with the outside world are unduly limited. Tazhimuratov twice filed a complaint with the Ombudsman, but did not receive a response. The prison administration “does not send my documents and does not give them to my lawyer.” “When I wrote a letter home, it was not sent, one day my lawyer came and said that the letters would rot in prison.” Tazhimuratov mentions that he was required to write letters in Uzbek.
When the proxies of the Karakalpak dissident, brother Rinat Tazhimuratov (who represented him in court) and Zh. Dzhumabaev came to the prison to meet with the convicted person, the meeting was not allowed, saying that after the verdict came into force this was supposedly impossible. At the same time, representatives of the Department of Execution of Punishments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were unable to indicate the legal grounds for such a refusal. “If, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the principal has the right to file an appeal, cassation complaint, then shouldn’t he consult with me, study the evidence and make a decision?” — asks Tazhimuratov.
In his address, he dwells in detail on the history of his diary, which was confiscated on the instructions of the prison administration in Navoi. Tazhimuratov writes that while he was in a pre-trial detention center in Khorezm, he asked one of the heads of the State Security Service for permission to keep a prison diary. He agreed and stamped “DXX” (SGB) on two notebooks. In his diary, Tazhimuratov expressed critical assessments of the situation in the country, in particular, that “in Uzbekistan, politics is more important than the law and the Constitution, there is no justice, a cult of personality like in the old days,” etc. The State Security Service, according to Tazhimuratov, never checked these notebooks, and The SSS seal protected them from inspection in the Bukhara pre-trial detention center and in the Tashprison. But in Navoi the diary was confiscated.
Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov also writes about his distrust of two Uzbek lawyers who visited him earlier. He characterizes one as a “traitor lawyer,” and accuses the second of having, at the request of the prison administration, handed over documents received from Tadzhimuratov.
Concluding his address, the Karakalpak dissident notes: “This is the work of the government, they deliberately keep me in isolation… If you stay here for two or three months, you can go crazy… I am sure that I will not leave this state prison alive, I agree with this, but the torture and curses of prison will be worse than a Kalashnikov assault rifle. God is on the right side, for me this is not a punishment, but a test.”
Addressing Ombudsman Feruza Eshmatova, Tazhimuratov writes: “I know that you will not be able to solve the problems regarding my application, since my case is controlled by people above you.” However, he asks: not to send his appeal back to the prison, to carry out an inspection against the heads of the prison, Ashirov and Asadov, using surveillance video recordings, to take measures in connection with the violation of constitutional norms in the prison, to involve the senator from Karakalpakstan Oral Ataniyazova in the inspection . I also “please interrogate me on my statement and involve the media in the case.”
Some important points of this appeal coincide with the information voiced by lawyer Sergei Mayorov in a video message after visiting Tazhimuratov on September 18.
Yesterday, Mayorov said by telephone that Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov is in a depressed state, talks about a possible death in prison, refuses lawyers and filing a cassation appeal, he was greatly affected by the death of his friend, who died in early September from being hit by a car driven by a police officer (in last year, two of his friends were beaten to death during interrogations). Tazhimuratov’s appeal to the Ombudsman of Uzbekistan, sent through Mayorov at the end of August, remained unanswered.
According to available documents, on July 21, 2023, the Navoi City Court rejected Tazhimuratov’s request to transfer him from prison to strict regime, citing the fact that the prison administration “has not fully studied his behavior.”
According to the court verdict, the Karakalpak dissident must serve his sentence in prison for the first two years, and the rest in a maximum security colony. Tazhimuratov was transferred to KIN-11 on June 13, 2023, and since his arrest on July 3, 2022, he has served more than half of his sentence in prison. The court’s ruling was appealed, since the reference to “lack of knowledge of behavior” does not comply with the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure. However, on August 28, the regional court rejected the appeal filed by Mayorov.
As in the criminal case itself, we are talking about a politically motivated violation of the rights of the leader of the Karakalpak protests.