UZBEKISTAN: Prisoners of conscience freed, others not

April 13, 2018

By Mushfig Bayram | Forum 18

Sisters Zulhumor and Mehrinisso Hamdamova were freed after more than eight years in prison for unauthorised religious meetings. Also freed was Zuboyd Mirzorakhimov, a Tajik citizen jailed for Muslim material on his mobile. An unconfirmed report says another Muslim Farida Sobirova was freed. Yet another, Mastura Latipova, remains jailed.

At least three prisoners of conscience jailed to punish them for exercising freedom of religion or belief – all of them Muslims – have been freed early from their sentences, Forum 18 has learnt. Zulhumor and Mehrinisso Hamdamova were freed in February after more than eight years in prison. Zuboyd Mirzorakhimov – a Tajik citizen – was freed in March after serving most of a five-year sentence.

However, confusion surrounds two Muslims held in the same women’s prison camp near Tashkent where the Hamdamova sisters had been held. Farida Sobirova and Mastura Latipova were both jailed in 2008 for teaching their faith and both had a further three years added to their sentences in 2016. Latipova is still imprisoned, but Forum 18 has been unable to confirm a report that Sobirova has been freed (see below).

Also among the many still imprisoned for exercising freedom of religion or belief is Muslim prisoner of conscience Khayrullo Tursunov. Attempts by relatives in early 2018 to seek his freedom were rejected (see below).

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