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Karakalpak human rights activist Saadatdin Reimov threatened in the prison

Freedom for Eurasia repeatedly has drawn attention to the case of Saadatdin Reimov, a Karakalpak activist sentenced to four years in prison under Article 159 (1) for alleged involvement in activities against the state.* Reimov’s arrest on August 30, 2022, related to unrest on July 1-2, triggered by false accusations made under police pressure.

During our mission to Karakalpakstan from October 23-26, 2023, we met with Reimov’s wife, Kalbike Sidavlaeva, who revealed that neither the police nor the prosecution could substantiate Reimov’s guilt during court proceedings as per Article 159 (1). Despite providing evidence of Reimov’s innocence, the court’s decision remained unchanged. 

Currently, S. Reimov is serving his sentence in prison number 34 “Manzil” in Kamashi district of the Kashkadaria region, Uzbekistan. Today, we received messages indicating threats to Reimov’s life and well-being in prison. He has allegedly been intimidated by the prison’s head, Anvorov Doston, and unidentified men, possibly linked to Uzbek special services (SNB), warning him to stop seeking assistance from human rights organizations. Additionally, Reimov has been threatened with violence from other inmates due to his ethnicity. Reimov is of Karakalpak ethnicity which is a minority in Uzbekistan.

This situation raises serious concerns about Reimov’s safety.

Saadatdin Reimov is a prominent activist and a human rights defender known for his dedication to the independence of the Karakalpak Republic. His endeavors include advocating for December 14 to be recognized as the Karakalpak Republic Day in 2018. In 2019, Reimov’s participation in the OSCE conference in Warsaw led to his persecution in Uzbekistan due to his perceived “affiliation with the West.” Between 2019 and 2020, he campaigned for the recognition of Karakalpakstan as an autonomous state within Uzbekistan, challenging the prevailing view of it as merely a distinct region.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Reimov urged the Ministry of Justice of the Karakalpak Republic to revive political parties such as “Insan Mapi” and “Alga Karakalpakstan,” receiving only vague acknowledgments of his claims. In 2021, his efforts to investigate the reduction of Karakalpak language class hours in schools and the increase of Uzbek language, along with the enforcement of obligatory Uzbek language for official documents and deletion of Karakalapak, resulted in a 15-day arrest and two fines for organizing language-saving rallies.

* Article 159 (1)Encroachments on the constitutional system of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Public calls for an unconstitutional change of the existing state system, seizure of power or removal from power of lawfully elected or appointed representatives of the authorities or for an unconstitutional violation of the unity of the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the production, storage for the purpose of distribution or distribution of materials of the same content – are punishable by a fine of up to six hundred basic calculation units or restriction of freedom from two to five years or imprisonment for up to five years.

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