Gay Journalist Denied Prison Release for Appeal
September 24, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, 365Gay.com Newscenter, European Bureau Chief
Tashkent, Uzbekistan—A gay journalist imprisoned in
Uzbekistan on what human rights groups call trumped up charges has been denied
release while his case is being appealed.
Ruslan Sharipov was sentenced last month to 5 1/2 years in prison after
pleading guilty to charges of sodomy, having sex with minors and running a
brothel. An outspoken critic of the Uzbek government, Shapirov denies the
charges and says he was forced into confessing as a result of torture by
prison guards while he was awaiting trial.
“Ikramov has been a fearless critic of the Uzbek government,” said
Rachel Denber, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central
Asia Division. “His reports let the world know about human rights abuses in
Uzbekistan. We suspect that there may be more to this incident than mere
This week an appeals court in Tashkent, the capital, rejected his plea for
freedom while the appeal is underway.
In a letter earlier this month to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
Sharipov wrote that he feared he would be murdered in prison. In his letter he
says he had been forced to write a suicide note declaring he had killed
himself by his own choice.
“I was clearly told that if I would write any further appeals or
complaints, I would ‘commit suicide’.”
Sharipov wrote that guards chose forms of torture that wouldn’t leave
marks on his body, such as placing a gas mask on his head and spraying an
unknown substance inside that hindered breathing. He also said he was
threatened he would be injected with the AIDS virus.
The Uzbek government denies it uses torture, but a United Nations
investigation last year found evidence of “systematic” torture in the
Central Asian nation.
[Home] [World] [Uzbekistan]