Last edited: November 02, 2003

Four Men Beat Uzbek Journalist’s Lawyer U.K., September 1, 2003

An Uzbek human rights activist trying to help jailed gay journalist Ruslan Sharipov was abducted and beaten after discussing Sharipov’s appeal with a judge on Thursday morning, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Surat Ikramov, of the Independent Group for Human Rights Defenders, was pulled from his car by four men in black masks who tied his arms and legs and put a plastic bag over his head.

The men beat Ikramov in the back of their car and tightened the plastic bag to restrict his air supply.

They reportedly left him on the outskirts of Tashkent near the bank of the Chirchik River. He suffered two broken ribs and a concussion.

Ikramov told HRW that he had received several threatening phone calls in the days preceding the attack.

Ikramov has been working as a public defender for Sharipov, who was sentenced earlier this month to five-and-a-half years in prison for homosexuality and sex with minors.

Ikramov argued that the charges were trumped up and unfair, and he had organised a protest, which had been scheduled for Friday, HRW said.

“The Uzbek government has a duty to investigate this brutal attack,” said Rachel Denber, deputy director of HRW’s Europe and Central Asia division.

“The international community should press the Uzbek government to ensure that the investigation is thorough and impartial, and should assess carefully the results of the investigation.”

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