Today in Jizzak city, Uzbekistan, the police arrested human rights defender Uktam Pardayev after raiding his home and confiscating his documents, computer, and camera. Police detained Mr. Pardaev at the Dustlik district police station, reported f Yelena Urlayeva, head of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan.
The arrest occurred at approximately 8:30 on Monday morning. Mid-afternoon, Umida Niayzova, director of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights spoke with Uktam Pardayev by phone from UGF’s office in Berlin. Police were holding Uktam in the investigator’s office at the time. He requested legal support and did not discuss the details of the arrest.
In an interview with Radio Ozodlik, Uktam Pardayev’s brother reported that the police had accused the human rights activist of having extorted 500,000 sums (about $100) from a farmer from the Dustlik district two years ago. Police claimed that the famer testified to the police about the alleged extortion.
Uktam Pardaev is one of the few remaining human rights defenders in Uzbekistan, openly protecting the rights of citizens from the arbitrary disregard for the laws by Uzbek officials. During the last two months, Pardaev monitored forced labour on the cotton fields in Uzbekistan.
During the last few months, the Uzbek security services have regularly published articles in which they call the activists enemies of the state and traitors. An article by the security service about Uktam Pardaev in September stated, “Uktam Pardayev should be punished according to Uzbek laws and, if necessary, sent to a place where he cannot do any further harm so that ordinary citizens do not suffer any more from the fraudulent acts by pseudo-human rights activists.”
This is not the first time the Uzbek government has targeted Uktam Pardaev for his human rights work. In September 2012, police arrested and detained Pardaev for 15 days, accusing him of “hooliganism” in retaliation against him for reporting on the government’s use of forced labor in the cotton harvest.