21 november 2015

Journalist waiting for his release from prison

On 1 October 2015, the Uzbek political prisoner Muhammad Bekzhanov reached the age of 61.  61 years of which he spent 16 in prison – formally, for being involved in the organization of terrorist acts in Tashkent in 1999, but in fact, because he had published the newspaper Erk Democratic Party, and was the brother of the leader of the Democratic Party, Muhammad Salih.

In 2012, at the end of his first 15-year prison sentence, the family of Muhammad Bekzhan in America was looking forward to their loved one. His daughters bought gifts, prepared a room in the house for their father and made an appointment with a doctor.  Muhammad Bekzhan, however, was not released. The Uzbek regime decided that he should remain in prison for another 4 years and 8 months.

It is terrible to watch the suffering of a man who is waiting for his release, counting the days, who is falling asleep every night pleased about another day that brings him closer to freedom, only to find out that he will remain in custody. Formally, for breaking the prison rules, but in fact, for being a political opponent and the brother of Muhammad Salih. In the vicious minds of the Uzbek officials arose the idea of extending a prison sentence for political prisoners preferably a few days before the long-awaited release.

This cruelty seems to be absolutely inexplicable and irrational.Releasing some opposition leaders from prison could bring political gains for the Uzbek authorities. Muhammad Bekzhanov and other Uzbek political prisoners whose sentences were also prolonged – these are elderly people in poor health.

What is the danger of granting them freedom? I have no answer to this question.

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