UGA Friends Say Charges Against Human Rights Activist Are Fake
Associated Press, September 3, 2003
ATHENS, Ga.—Friends and students at the University
of Georgia who knew Ruslan Sharipov when he was a student say he is being
prosecuted by the Uzbekistan government for political purposes.
Sharipov, who attended UGA as an exchange student in 1999-2000, has been
jailed in Uzbekistan on charges of being gay.
Critics argue the charges were trumped up to undermine Sharipov’s work as
an independent human rights activist and journalist.
He was very passionate about his beliefs, said Farah Omar, a university
alumna and friend of Sharipov. He was very involved at UGA, and different
people who worked at the International Student Life office always talked of
him doing positive things.
Sharipov has been a critic of police corruption and human rights abuses
since returning to Uzbekistan.
While at UGA, Sharipov created an Asian Central Organization in 2000, said
ISL coordinator Leigh Poole.
Sharipov, 25, was sentenced last month to 5 1/2 years in jail for having
homosexual sex, having sex with minors and running a brothel.
Sharipov pleaded guilty and dismissed his lawyers at the trial after
earlier maintaining that he was innocent and the case fabricated. But human
rights and media freedom groups said Sharipov may have been tortured and
forced to confess.
“I’m absolutely sure he is being tortured,” Omar said. “I urge
people to petition on the Web site and to write letters directly to the
chancellors and president of Uzbekistan in order to get his release.”
Sharipov, who leads an independent group that focuses on media freedom, has
repeatedly been detained, beaten and questioned by police.
When I was told that a student who was heavily involved on campus was
arrested, I was really surprised, said Heidi Millington, president of the UGA
chapter of Amnesty International.
Amnesty International is circulating a petition on campus for Sharipov’s
- Information from: Athens Banner-Herald
[Home] [World] [Uzbekistan]