Uznews.net – The trial of 10 men accused of religious extremism and attempting to overthrow Uzbekistan’s constitutional system has started at the Tashkent Region court.
This sort of trials started in Uzbekistan over 15 years ago, but the number of people in the dock has only been going up.
The Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan said that the men were residents of Tashkent’s Region’s Chirchik and Kibray Districts.
A criminal case against them was opened in June 2010 and case materials claim that the men have been gathering at the Amir-ugli Hasanboy mosque in Chirchik since 2007 and have been discussing the ideologies of various currents of Islam – Hizb-ut Tahrir, Wahhabism and so on, the group said.
The head of the group, Surat Ikramov, believes that the suspects have fallen victim to the Uzbek government’s campaign against freedom of religion that has been underway in Uzbekistan for many years.
Ikramov said he had witnessed hundreds of similar trials during his decade-long career of human rights activist.
About 9,000 Uzbek citizens have been jailed on the charges of religious extremism, membership of banned religious organisations and attempting to overthrow the country’s constitutional system.
A few were sentenced to short prison terms of up to five years, but most were sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.
Ikramov said most convicts were indeed practising Muslims, but they had not been involved in terrorist or other subversive activities.
Judges are not interested in the principle of the presumption of innocence, he noted. “Judges are simply implementing the government’s strategy, jailing people on orders from on high,” Ikramov said.
However, these trials and the strictest punishments are not putting people off Islam, and the number of believers is growing in the country, with mosques full for Friday prayers, the activist said.
Ikramov said many turned to Islam because they were desperate and hoped to find solace in religion. It is the Uzbek government that is responsible for people’s interest in Islam, the activist said.
“The country’s authorities are building prisons, as their number has increased in the country since it obtained independence [in 1991],” Ikramov said. “And this is [being done] instead of building nurseries, schools and plants.”
The solution to this situation and to endless and pointless trials, Ikramov believes, is to pardon all believers and to reform the political and economic systems of Uzbekistan.
These trials only increase the likelihood of a conflict in society because the accused have families to support and often leave small children behind when they go to prison, the activist thinks.
The following men are standing the trial in the Tashkent Region court:
Bahtiyor Mahamatov, 29, imam of the Amir-ugli Hasanboy mosque in Chirchik, Tashkent Region;
Shohzodbek Shadiyev, 29;
Hurshid Himmatkulov, 35;
Alisher Tagayev, 27;
Aziz Umarov, 20;
Nigmatulla Sahipov, 47, chairman of a cooperative of homeowners in Kibray District and a former member of the Kibray District legislature;
Bahodir Ibragimov, 32;
Shuhrat Utarov, 29;
Faryh Rahimov, 29;
Farhod Sayfullayev, 43.