Human Rights in Uzbekistan 1999
Report of Human Rights Watch
In a new report about Uzbekistan,
Human Rights Watch documents a pernicious form of religious discrimination
practiced by the government against Muslims. The report, Class Dismissed:
Discriminatory Expulsions of Muslim Students describes the government's
zero-tolerance policy toward Muslim students who wear headscarves and beards.
Government officials have unceremoniously expelled the students from schools and
universities. Most of those expelled were girls and young women.
government of Uzbekistan is assaulting religious freedom from all sides," said
Holly Cartner, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division of
Human Rights Watch. "The expulsion of Muslim students is yet another aspect of
In some cases, university officials have joined state
security agents to intimidate and harass Muslim students who persisted in
wearing religious attire, and their families. The Ministry of State Security
(the successor to the KGB) has threatened some students, and warned their
parents of being fired from their jobs.
The discriminatory policy is part of
the Karimov government's crackdown on Muslims not affiliated with
government-sanctioned mosques. Since late 1997, police and security forces have
arrested thousands of Muslims who do not adhere to officially-sanctioned Islam
or do not attend government-approved mosques. Police have planted evidence on
suspects and beaten detainees. Judges presided over blatantly unfair trials,
ignoring police misdeeds and convicting men on the basis of their religious
The Uzbek government has claimed that the students' religious attire
identifies them as members of "Wahabi" sects seeking to establish an Islamic
state. Yet none of the students claimed affiliation with "Wahabism," and none
was charged with any violent act or with disrupting public order.
the U.S. State Department criticized Uzbekistan for its religious practices in
its first report on religious freedom around the world. Prior to the report's
release, the Uzbek government released five Christians imprisoned for their
religious beliefs. It did not release any Muslim detainees.
In Tashkent, Acacia Shields: +998712-56-02-53 or 56-17-13
New York, Cassandra Cavanaugh: +1-212-216-1271