|Mamadali MAKHMUDOV (Evril TURON)|
It turns out that my release from prison depends upon You alone. This was openly said to me during the interrogations by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sayfulla Asadov, Head of the Main Investigation Department of MIA Alisher Sharafiddinov, investigator of MIA Ilkhom Turgunov. They forced me to write dozens of testimonies, and to be more exact, to write letters in your name. Whenever I happened to talk to a law enforcement officer after my imprisonment, they all said, “All depends on the President. You are on a special list of the President”.
I am not guilty of the bombings of 16 February 1999 organised in the Tashkent city. Even the law enforcement officers, whom I mentioned, emphasized this at certain instances during the interrogations. The same words I heard in prisons from many militia officers. The Uzbek people and people who know me are convinced that I have nothing to do with that abominable case. Where are the witnesses who are saying, “Bombings were done by Mamadali Makhmudov”?! Where are the witnesses saying, “Mamadali Makhmudov distributed money to organise bombings”?! Is there even one such witness?! No. However, it has been five years that I am spending in prison based on such outrageous slander.
Before that, from 3 March 1994 to 6 August 1996, two and a half years I spent in detention centres and prisons. Five months and 18 days I spent in the basement detention centre of the MIA building together with cruel “lokhmaches” (informants). Tell me is this is a closed regime? Then I was locked up in the detention centres of the zones Navoi-29 and Almalyk-45. They told me, “This is the order from above” and they oppressed me. I said, “President would not wish such measures for me”. Bosses of the zones and operative officers insisted, “You are under the personal control of the President himself. There is no way out for you".
I used to be a chairman of the Culture Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan. I was elected by the Plenum and it should have been Plenum who would fire me if necessary.Uzbek intellectuals know very well how the Foundation was developing at that time. However, early morning of 3 March 1994 dozens of MIA officers broke into my house and the office. Predators, they planted a handgun and drugs in my house and a few issues of the newspaper “Erk”. If that had not been enough, drugs were also planted in my office. I was brought to the MIA building. I do not know who authorised such banditry, violence and lawlessness.
“For what?” – I asked a militia officer who looked like a human to me. He took me aside and said, “This is an order from above … Be patient … I read your books … no one can help You …” On the fifth floor of the MIA building, before taking me to the basement prison of MIA, one responsible officer (I still remember his name) whispered to me, “Repressions have started in the country …” Then they drew a protocol report … “You will now be taken downstairs …”
“There are informants there … Be cautious … I read Your novel “Immortal Rocks”. It gives rise to national dignity …” – said that militia officer.
I, like thousands of other people, was planted a handgun and drugs on me. That is the power of the rule of law …
For which sins? I don’t know. This is the slander of the law enforcement officers! For them slander, oppression, violation of laws, jailing people have become a normal thing, business as usual. When I was at work they planted two boxes of the newspaper “Erk” on my house. I voluntarily gave them to the President’s adviser Mavlon Umurzokov. I realised that it was done on purpose. However, I discovered the author of that trick a few years later. It was a KGB officer Aktam Rozikov … This morally dirty man brought “Erk” newspapers. After the prison and during the second detention I insisted on seeing Aktam Rozikov face to face. However, why would they spit out the “mess”, which they concocted themselves! Because of this outrageous slander I spent two years and five months in prisons and basements, lost my health. If everybody is equal before the law, then why this issue has not been resolved until now? Why those guilty in my imprisonment have not been punished? Because, Mr. President, this is a fabrication under special orders. I am confident that the Almighty will not leave them unpunished …
They didn’t even bother to ask me about the handgun and drugs. Why was I not jailed during the times of the USSR, but during the Independence, of which I had been dreaming, for which I was fighting, which was the goal of my life, of which I had been writing?! All my books I wrote for the sake of the freedom of our nation.
However, the USSR did not jail me for that. It did not even reprimand me for that. Is it not an insult to the nation to jail a national writer?!
People who as recent as yesterday were praising “the Elder Brother”, who were screaming and shouting that “Without the Russian people and without the Russian language we cannot move any step forward” today are prospering, committing violence, oppression, slander and lies. And people like me, who fought for Freedom and Liberty, are in jail, exile and under persecution…
Mister President, it would be good if You weighed these on a scale of justice. I am the son of my nation. Those who call us traitors of Motherland or enemy of the people they are themselves enemies of the people. Time will put things in right place. If people like me had not been in prison Uzbekistan would not be in such a mess. Have there been that many day-labourers and beggars in our history?! Have people in the course of our history left for work and in search of a loaf of bread for Kazakhstan, Russian, Korea, America, Turkey, Germany …?! Have our history known a market of female day-labourers?! Have you seen how deplorable their condition is and how hungry and impoverished they are?! Or maybe you heard about it?! When in the history our women suffered in severe cold and scorching heat, hungry and bare footed in the markets for day-labourers?! Have they beseeched every passer-by, “Do you have a job?!” When were our women forced to sell their bodies to feed their children crying for bread?!
When in our history were prisons filled to such extent?! Have there any people left in the country, which had not been jailed and/or insulted?! Have people in our history burnt themselves, hang themselves, poisoned themselves in thousands?! Is it destitution, hunger, high cost of living, oppression and persecution?! Currently, hundreds and thousands of young people are jailed. 70-80% of them are innocent. If a person who stole one chicken or a loaf of bread is jailed for 10 years, what will become of his family and children?! What should a man do whose children are dying of hunger?! Will a person steal, if his wages are sufficient?! Where are jobs? Where are wages? What will become of birth rate, if hundreds of thousands of people are in jail?! Is it not the hundreds of thousands who would be borne by the hundreds of thousands?! Is it not a blow to the root of the nation?! 99% of the prison population are young men. They are the sons of Uzbekistan.
We should be scared of law enforcement bodies, which create mountains out of molehills, and paint ants as big as camels, who make up the Kishtut, Paytuk, Chimgan events, in order to hold their positions of authority, sit in their office arm-chairs feeling snug and solid, increase the number of personnel, salaries, receive bonuses. They have all the rights, in particular, some militia officers, who lost self-control, who are overweight from lawlessness, lies, slander and oppression. This is not only my opinion, but the opinion of many people. I am not biased when writing about it.
Not a single area of life is left where militia officers did not poke their noses. What will you say, Mr. President to the fact that our people cannot walk safely in their own street, mahalla-community or their country?! When did we have this in our country?! It is because of them that there is a precipice between the state and the people. Who is heading all this stealth, corruption, self-seeking, discord? Every citizen, every inmate is saying this openly. Is it possible to speak about prosperity of our people when law enforcement officers are at the head of each thief, when law enforcement officers are patrons of even small pickpockets?! In a word, they are guilty of the crises in all areas of life.
The poor, the destitute, the weak do not have a chance of living, of treading their roads in life. Khokims [governors], prosecutors, judges, militia officers and other functionaries do not let them be, block their roads. If someone tells the truth he or she will be jailed under various pretexts. All firms and lucrative posts belong to them and to their relatives. Everyone knows it. However, people do not talk about it loudly. I am telling this to You, President, because I care. Our nation is under oppression, it is being oppressed. The nation is hungry, the nation is destitute. Appearance of a multitude of extremist movements is a result of the unlimited oppression of the law enforcement structures. It also accounts for inequality, corruption, disbelief, lie, poverty, destitutions, violence, abuse, unemployment. Do we have strong spiritual leaders, strong philosophers, leaders who care for the nation, for the Motherland? Now you feel that yourself, Mister President. Is it not the time to cut the number of militia officers by 80% and improve the quality of personnel?! As well as judges, prosecutors, secret service officers?! There are millions of them now!
They are parasites! In my childhood there were two or three militia officers in one district, and it was safe everywhere; there were hardly any thefts, prostitution, or discontent, prisons were almost empty. It is even possible to say that there were no prisons. What about now?! …
The legendary pace of development! But they say this for a good reason: “When there are too many shepherds the sheep die”.
What is their role in my understanding of the situation? Window dressing, fraud, acceleration is all their bread and butter…
In the evening of 19 February 1999 around 5 or 6 o’clock people in black masks kidnapped me near the shop in our mahalla. Hundreds of people saw it. My wife Muqaddas who has a sick heart was left there wailing. Later I learnt that these predators also stole our car “TIKO” … Mister President, does kidnapping and car theft agree with the laws of Uzbekistan? I was at home, I had nothing to do with bombing, and if I had been summoned wouldn’t I have come myself?! Why cause so much noise and panic?!!! Was it meant to pass the lie for the truth to mislead people? People do not believe this in any case.
“Bombings were organized by authorities themselves” – that is what people say. It is impossible to hide anything from people. In an unknown basement prison located in 2.5-3 hour road from Tashkent (maybe it is the Chirchik zone and I was taken there via a long winded route), I was subjected to unprecedented and unheard of torture. They stuck needles under my nails; they pulled out my nails with pliers, stuck a handgun into my mouth and knocked out my teeth. Having punched and kicked me up and beaten me up with clubs they covered my body with bruises and wounds. They put a plastic bag on my head three times (this is called “a death bag”); they made some kind injections to me, forced me to take unknown liquids … I wrote dozens of letters to you about these. However, I never got an answer. I suppose that my letters reached You, therefore I will not say much more about these horrendous tortures.
Who and why needs the lie and slander to be signed through boundless humiliation and torture? This will bring only temporary victory. It is not possible to go too far by this artificial, abominable, dirty and infamous activity … Who gave orders to kidnap a man, a national writer? Is MIA capable of that just on its own? How many people have disappeared and are disappearing till now?! Are they not being destroyed by EXECUTIONERS in black masks? Where is Abduvali Kori? Time will show and already shows that granting unlimited rights to militia will not lead to any good consequences. However, why there are measures taken to counter the situation? Currently, the law enforcement officers say in chorus, “It is we who are holding together the state”. And tomorrow will they be able to contend the same?
Tashkent city prosecutor’s office sanctioned my detention one and a half months after the arrest. One and a half months, which I spent in the basement prison, soaked in my own blood, frequently losing consciousness, going through endless suffering and ordeal, will not be counted? What will you, Mister President, say to the fact that militia officers and prosecutors violate the law themselves? Lawlessness is being committed not only in my case, but also in relation to thousands and dozens of thousands of people. In the colonies one can hear such complaints at every step. Among the inmates there isn’t a single person who had not been beaten up, who has not had their parts broken, their internal organs injured.
Extraction of evidence through torture is wide-spread and well-established in the country. Innumerable people are suffering from that in prisons for dozens of years. Even execution sentences are issued based on evidence extracted through torture. Prisoners say this openly, “President is at the head of this lawlessness,” – and I am not making this up. I am only writing what I see and hear. You think law enforcement bodies are afraid of the Almighty? No! They live fat and jolly. It is them who stump over law and show the state to the people in an abominable way. In my opinion, it is necessary to undertake urgent measures in order to correct the situation. It is necessary to implement reforms.
How many people are suffering when one person is put in prison? Families are destroyed. If family is a basis of the state then what will become of the state if families are being destroyed. You are on your own and it is hard for You to cope with everything. However, what is yYour team doing?! Is it not separated from the people? Is it not guilty of economic, social, cultural and moral crisis of the nation? Is it not the time for change? Anyway, you know this yourself, I am just relating what is being said. I doubt, and to be more exact, I do not believe that your team has a sincere understanding of such words as nation, Motherland, independence, freedom, democracy and is able to sacrifice themselves for these ideals. What can you expect from people, who as recent as yesterday were praising the communist party and when it was in a difficulty left it in a matter of a moment and, like the Satan, turned into fighters for independence?! Fine, it is possible to wait for a year or two, five years at most. But not for ten or fifteen years! The Motherland has been imprisoned. Everyone is fed up with false promises, idle talk, fraud, contrivance, flattery. Has the Motherland not been strangled by barbed wire? “In the times of the USSR, on the contrary, people lived a calm, safe life. They were not worried about their daily bread and clothes. There wasn’t such oppression and violence. There weren’t such massive control, such massive deprivation of freedom. Every house had bread, sugar and food oil, daily meals and decent clothes …” – that is what people are saying today. If we walk among people, that is what we will hear at every step. We hear this in prisons as well.
It is very hard to hear this. Too hard. How is it possible to understand nostalgia for slavery and serfdom? We lived on the money from Moscow, we depended on hand-outs. However, no matter how hard it is to acknowledge, we lived much better then. How is it possible to understand that while possessing own natural resources on the earth and beneath it, while being an independent state we live as beggars, in fear and under constraint?!
We say, “Transition period is hard”. But how many years have we been independent? Instead of moving forward we are rolling back. We heard many talks like “Give me another five years, and I will make wonderful”. The third five-year period is going. Where is the wonderful life?! While other countries are developing and prospering, even some of them are building new capitals, we keep boasting on two or three luxurious buildings. Are these buildings built for somebody’s personal money? They are built for the nation’s money, which was taken away from it. And this is being praised by the tame, bogus, and callous parrots – press, radio and television. How can the team, which brought country to its knees, justify itself? By lies and pretence all over again? It is a pity… Now even mad people will not believe it. You think that this team is loyal to you? Loyalty is demonstrated in work, in causes, justice, truth and care.
After the prosecutor sanctioned by arrest, I was first thrown to the basement prison of the MIA and then to the special basement prison of the Tashkent prison. People charged under Article 159 are placed there and informants assigned to each of them. All informants are drug addicts, they inject heroin openly and from time to time they are released in order to empty the “cassettes”. Here they feel at home.
From the first glance one can recognize the “lokhmaches” [informants], because they are all nasty stinkers, without human feelings, dirty traitors who turned into beasts. Who is procuring them with heroin, opium, hashish? Who? Of course, militia officers. Why rule of law is silent about it?!
There is no duress upon those criminal-prisoners who murdered their fathers, raped their mothers or sisters, who destroyed people’s lives. The pressure and duress is only put on those charged and sentenced under Article 159. Every day they are degraded and beaten up, being called traitors of the Motherland, enemies of the people, Wahhabis, “vovchik”s, Hizbuts. I asked one militia officer who I know, “Why do you oppress them so much?". He answered to me: “Why would we need that … there is an order … from above… Can’t do nothing about it… Otherwise we may suffer ourselves … We will be fired … If they notice me talking to you, they will not let me alone … There is a stalker watching every one of us here … Let’s not talk again … Please don’t take me wrong. ”
It is hard to find any convicts under Article 159 who would not bear bruises or broken bones. Our history has not seen such atrocity. Will the history forgive the murder of the nation’s children by torture? And enemies of people they are not. Is it possible to prevent the appearance of various extremist groups by prisons, torture and murder? No! Never! On the contrary, this will only boost their appearance. Against the oppression waves will be raised stronger that the oppression itself. This is the law of nature. False promises, lies, slander, violence, oppression will not take too far. At the end these vices will destroy those who are committing them. History is the best evidence to that.
It is necessary to provide jobs to people, to raise wages to minimum 200-300 dollars, establish private ownership to land as they did in Kazakhstan and in all democratic countries. Also, private ownership should be established on factories and plants and other property, which currently the ownership of the state.
It is enough for the state to own the army and other organs of state government. People will grow what is more profitable and will sell their produce in the international markets. Militia officers, judges, prosecutors, khokims, ministers and other functionaries should not interfere with these matters at all. Otherwise criminal proceedings should be opened against them. Only then they will know that law is the same for everybody. And private owners should only pay taxes in due time. Country where there is no oppression, lie, slander, false promises, and mass imprisonments will not prosper. Otherwise the country will turn into ruins. Militia, courts, prosecutor’s office, radio, television, press, SNB should serve the whole nation and not one person. Those who love their Motherland, their nation will follow this road. Otherwise they will be buried in the dirt of history.
Human is created in such a way that first of all he thinks about his children, his garden, his property and works for them. He does not care that much about others. This is an eternal, invariable, immortal law of the Almighty. It means that private property is at the heart of the society, it is its engine. On its basis the country prospers and the state strengthens, science and technology develop, prisons become empty. Well-fed people do not steal. The root of theft is poverty, destitution, tension. They are also at the root of moral degradation. Billions of money spent on prisons should be allocated towards amelioration of the new land, restoration of the bankrupt and dysfunctional factories and plants and to increase wages. Thousands of law enforcement officers should be made redundant and only the best few should stay. Money spent on them should be invested in the industry.
Our country has rich natural resources. Millions of hectares of arable land, factories and plants are not working, there is no currency conversion. International trade routes are in shackles; there is no freedom of enterprise… Country, which has no freedom, is doomed to crisis. Freedom is the mother of life, prosperity, development, and well-being. This is the opinion of the smart, talented youth, which is suffering in prisons.
Yes, of course, here as well, there are flaws brought in from the outside world. Here, too, those with money survive … Mr President, I must write frankly. The majority of prisoners say that Tashkent bombings were specially organized by authorities themselves in order to distract public opinion, to defame the opposition in the eyes of the nation and to extend their term of power. The same talks circulate at large: “Enemy would not launch bombings in such primitive-communal manner”. Have innocent lads been executed?! In the 3rd building of the Tashkent prison sentenced to death M. Abdurakhmonov, M. Khakimjonov wrote letters to their brothers in faith that they did not take part in the bombings. I also read those letters. Talks about Abdurakhmonov having been caught in Almaty and brought from there are all lies. He was brought directly from the Andijan zone and Khakimjonov was brought from the Navoi zone. How can a person serving a sentence in the zone bomb Tashkent?
Abdurakhmonov was only “guilty” of reading namaz-prayer. I cannot judge whether reading a namaz prayer is a sin. Both lads were coerced to confess under the hell of torture… I know this from my own experience that human body can only tolerate torture to a certain extent. After that …
During the interrogations in the prison some colonels and officers of lower ranks asked me: “Is Mukhammad Salikh complicit in this? Or maybe these bombings were organized by Russian secret services? What do you think?” “Mukhammad Salikh was in Saryagach and was watching the bombings from there. A group of his friends was there with him … They came in six cars … Thanks to the militia of Kazakhstan … They gave out Mukhammad Salikh to us …” said Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Sayfulla Asadov. Although I felt that Sayfulla Asadov was saying a brazen lie, I asked him: Where is Mukhammad Salikh now?” “In the SNB”, - Asadov told me staring in my eyes. “They will not keep you here any longer … now the President’s mood is good … Eduard Shevardnadze came. You will be released within five or six days … Currently President’s reputation in the international arena is very high. He is a leader of Central Asia. Do you know whose merit it is that our state in stable and strong?” said Sayfulla Asadov. I did not reply. “Who and what did Stalin rely upon in governing the state? – Colonel Asadov asked me three times. I did not reply. Why would I say a universally known truth …
Saryagach … The whole story linked to Mukhammad Salikh from the beginning to the end was made up by Alisher Begaboev and then gave it to the MIA. And MIA added more imagination and gave it to you. That is the truth, Mr President. In the Kiev airport Alisher Begaboev told me the following: “You and I, we both went through prison. If we do not reinstate ourselves in our former jobs it will be very difficult for us. See what times have come … I have an idea. If we do that, everything will fall into place. Only your consent is needed…” “What idea is it?” – I asked.
“Salikh is far … Nothing will harm him … but we will get our jobs back … I have very reliable contacts in the MIA, such as Alisher Ergashev … We will tell them that Mukhammad Salikh wants to bomb Tashkent, … organise assassination against “Dad”, … Salikh wants to manage these things from Saryagach …” I was shocked by the evil intent of that rogue … I demanded several times of the investigator with a mole on the face who did not introduce himself, I asked Deputy Minister of MIA S. Asadov, investigator of MIA Ilkhom Turgunov to bring me Alisher Begaboev. They said: “Alisher Begaboev is on the run … he is wanted … If we find him we will tear his ass …” But in reality, Alisher Begaboev was driving freely in his car in the streets of Tashkent, and many people saw him including my wife … Bombings in Tashkent were staged exactly by the scenario of Alisher Begaboev … This scumbag troubled the waters …
Who is Alisher Begaboev? Alisher Begaboev is a former MIA officer, captain, who was jailed for many years for crimes. Together with some of his friends, whose names are mentioned above, was released from prison not long before the February bombing is Tashkent.
And immediately after that he started looking for any ways to reinstate in this former job.
Even at the expense of lies, slander and treachery. His wife Dilfusa was a friend of Marzia, the wife of Maksood Bekjon who is the brother of Mukhammad Salikh. When Alisher Begaboev was jailed Mukhammad Salikh helped him with 2000 dollars. I know the scumbag from the Tashkent prison. Then Alisher Begaboev said a lot of bad things against you, Mr President, against SNB. He also spoke against Ismail Jurabek too...
Before the court hearing my “companions” and I were brought hand-cuffed to the MIA basement prison. Each “companion” was put in a separate cell. It was August then. They are no “companions” to me … First time I saw then in the Tashkent prison, with the exception of Mukhammad Salikh’s brothers – Mukhammad and Rashid Bekjanovs. When fake “companions” are planted on a writer then no need to speak about what they do other people. All those charged under Article 159 have such fake “companions”. Later I discovered that this “method” was applied to all other inmates. Really, Mr. President, is anyone controlling or checking this? Will they not be accountable before the law for these abominable crimes? Or in this country all rights belong to the law enforcement? Are all other sons of the Fatherland strangers in their own country?
If I am not mistaken, a day or two before the court I was transferred to a dark, damp investigative isolation cell, the walls of which were covered with human blood. I was received by Alisher Ergashev. I am quoting Alisher Ergashev in brief, but accurately: “In court hearing you will say what is written here. This will make it easier for you. It means that you will be given two or three years of imprisonment and then we will release you under amnesty. Do not forget that in court from the beginning to the end you will only say “yes” or “no” because court hearing will be watched by the President himself. I repeat that you must not go beyond the written. Otherwise the President will say: “Dispose!”
I said: “In court I will say the truth; is the truth not important for the President? If not then let him kill me”. Ergashev said: “Do you really think that court will believe you? You must be mad. Everything will be the way we wrote … I will talk to you again. Think about it. You have children. This is a chance for you!”. I shuddered at Ergashev’s words “Otherwise the President will say: “Dispose!” I thought, if my end is near then death is unavoidable. However, I was disturbed by the fact that a major had a nerve, without fear, to threaten to “dispose” on behalf of the President of the country. Is that really true?! Indeed?!!! And how many people were “disposed”, thousands? … In court I realised that from my “companions” they demanded the same … I don’t know what is the purpose of such pressure? Is it in order to conceal the truth, M. President? The truth that law enforcement officers openly act on behalf of you surprises not only me but other people as well …
With such panic we were commuted to the Tashkent province court. Surrounded by hundreds of militia officers, soldiers and dogs; we were beaten with clubs to force us to walk fast, bent, with our heads down. Car sirens were howling non-stop, ahead of us and behind us traffic police were shouting … They tied our hands in front only when we were eating and went to the toilet. Oh My God, Oh My God, militia officers did their best to show to people that we bombed Tashkent. The court building was surrounded by a hundred of armed soldiers in helmets. People armed with machine-guns stood even on the roofs of the court building. As if Mukhammad Salikh was attacking it… Mistaken are those who think that people do not understand that all of this is a farce, a staged scenario …
Major Alisher Ergashev turned out to be right … Despite all the truth that we told in court, the judge did not change a single word in the slander written by MIA investigators. He could not change …
- If you were subjected to torture, where is forensic medical report? – asked judge Rasulov.
- If we lying half-dead in unknown basement prisons, would they take us for forensic medical examination? – We answered.
- I do court hearing with specific evidence. I do not believe oral testimonies.
- You do not believe hundreds of witnesses? – I asked the judge.
- What do you mean?
- In broad daylight law enforcement officers wearing masks kidnapped me near a shop in our mahalla. Why you do not believe this?
- If your words correspond to the truth, why did you not tell this to the MIA investigators?
- Bu it was done by the MIA itself!
- There is nothing about it in the investigation documents.
- And you check this; thousands of people will confirm it.
- Stop the idle talk! …
In a word, the judge did not examine our case even for the sake of formality; he did not take into account a word of what we said. I was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment under articles 25, 159 (Part 4), 242 (Part 1), 216 of the Criminal Code. My “companions” were assigned the same articles under the same false charges. Cruel sentence was announced on 18 August 1999 … Before 14 December 1999 I was kept in the basement of the Tashkent prison. What do you think, Mr President, is it in accordance with the law that a person is kept for a whole year in a basement prison full of water, which stinks, which is teaming with rats, insects, fleas and mites? In addition, the person is subjected to torture and degrading treatment? Why such oppression toward those charge under Article 159? They are only fed with boiled rice. And such is the picture almost in all prisons. Therefore, tuberculosis is wide-spread there… Sangorod [hospital prison zone] I full of the ill people. Every day at least 3-4 corpses are taken out …
15 December 1999 I was thrown to the bloody 46th zone in Navoi city. It is a death camp of the sort. Especially those under Article 159 are subjected to endless torture there. Every day they are beaten by clubs, punched and covered with obscene curses and they clean latrines. In snow, rain, storm, or scorching heat they are forced to crawl, run as geese, do squats and sing the anthem till they faint. In addition, they are forced to run around barefooted and naked in snow, to wear wet clothes, to sit in light clothes in the cold isolation cell. In one barrack there are about 400 inmates. In Unit 12 where I was there lived 395 inmates. In 3-4 level cots (shkonkas) 3-4 persons slept. On the top level those charged under Article 159 would lie… All of the most degrading, hard, and dirty work under oppression and beatings with clubs are allocated to those charged under Article 159. They are left out of amnesty or any kind of easing of restrictions. Each of them is charged with 3 to 20 breaches of internal order. If other inmates receive parcels at any time and in any amount, those charged under Article 159 may not receive parcels of more than 8 kg. And that is only once in four months and only after numerous checks. Boiled rice, which they are fed, is nothing; therefore some inmates sell their body for a piece of bread. In each zone there is a group of homosexuals, whose number is growing… Who will say that long time spent without a wife does not take a toll on a man? 90% of inmates do not have visitors from home. And everybody knows what people are able to do …
In April 2000 in that bloodbath zone all inmates of colony 36 were severely suppressed and broken. History has not seen such atrocity… Reasonable inmates said: “If there had not been a secret order from above no one would dare commit this bloody slaughter. The order to bring the inmates of the whole zone to colony 36 can only be issued by the top leadership…” Colony 36 is a colony of inmates with tuberculosis. Scumbags and militia officers beat up the poor inmates ill with tuberculosis in such a way that even footpaths were covered with blood. Everywhere there were inmates lying with broken legs, arms, jaws and ribs. Those who were able to move dragged the fallen to the isolation cells.
Sick prisoners lost consciousness from lashes of clubs and iron rods on their heads. We, thousands of inmates standing behind high iron bars and fences watched all of this with our own eyes. At that time the zone built for 1,500 prisoners was packed with 5,500 prisoners. Before the visit of the Red Cross commission (April 2000), some 2,000 to 2,500 prisoners were urgently transferred to other zones. In such situation we were only capable of compassion and empathy.
In isolation wards the sick with tuberculosis suffered from the same treatment “methods”, which were used to those charged under Article 159: by beating and kicking they were forced to mew and to yap [like cats and dogs]. Three inmates were beaten to death immediately. The other 8 were killed gradually. The inmate by the name Botir (by the nickname “Kazakh” from Urgench) who had a solid physique was beaten up so severely that his face, mouth, ears, nose were torn, teeth knocked out, all bones broken. The next morning militia officers took out Botir and showed him to the rest of the inmates and boasted how they beat people. Botir the “Kazakh” was savagely murdered on 18 April 2000. I was the witness. Five sick with tuberculosis were tied up and raped, after that clubs were stuck in their anuses. This bloodbath and slaughter was led by the head of the operative unit Sanakul. After that Sanakul was promoted for these “merits” to the position of the deputy head of the zone. But for that crime Sanakul should get a capital punishment and his property should be confiscated. All inmates who were savagely murdered by criminals headed by Sanakul documents were drawn as if they died natural deaths. And nobody was held accountable for that. Where is rule of law here?
International court and experts of the whole world should investigate these atrocities and punish the criminals. Only then justice will overcome, Mr President! And, of course, villains who stood at the head of these atrocities should not be left unpunished. 23 April 2000 early morning I alone was urgently taken to the duty station. There in the corner Mukhammad Salikh’s brother – Mukhammad Bekjon was sitting with his hands hand-cuffed to the back of his head. Damned militia officers would not even let us greet each other. Cursing us with obscene words they started beating us with clubs. I realised that Mukhammad Bekjon was brought there alone from Kyzyktepinsky colony. I did not know where they were going to take us after that. Surrounded by dozens of militia officers and dogs Mukhammad Bakjon and I were taken to the railway station. When we without seeing each other were coming in a “glass” (a device for especially dangerous criminals) the “funnel” (of the special car for prisoners) I overheard the words of the head of the convoy: “If they make suspicious movements, shoot them down! They both are traitors of the Motherland!!!”
Thanks God, we were not shot; under a “storm” of clubs we got on the train. In one wagon there were eighty persons charged under Article 159. They were mainly from Ferghana Valley; they were brought from Chirchik and Zangiata zones. It was extremely hot and there was nowhere to sit. It was stinky, impossible to breathe, we were thirsty but we would not be given water. They did not let us go to toilet; we were forced to relieve ourselves in plastic bags. The escort officers only swore and beat us with clubs. That was hell!
We heard that that “special caravan” was going under the control of the deputy head of the Main Department of Punishment Execution (GUIN) MIA of Uzbekistan Ravshan Sarikov … They took away our personal bags … I had food, cigarettes, glasses, pens, pencils, books, notebooks, and manuscripts in mine. What I have been writing for months I lost in one moment. I realised that I would never be able to restore them. Those were parts of my novel “Rabid Dog” … 24 April we were met by hundreds of armed soldiers, militia officers and dogs in the closed camp “JASLYK”. Before us three deliveries were brought in, we were in the fourth delivery…
Mr President, we heard from militia officers that “JASLYK” is camp built upon your initiative.
The first day savages boasted to us several times: “This camp was built under the President’s order; each of you under the control of the President. This is “Titanik”, it is impossible to get alive out of here. This is a death camp. If you do not fulfil 12 provisions (in fact, there were 11 provisions, the 12th provision – singing of the anthem – militia officers added themselves) we will kill you. There is no difference between you and worms, we will “write you off” for peanuts. You are a waste!
There is no mercy for traitors of motherland!!! …” I remembered your words, Mr President, which you said on the day of the February bombings in Tashkent, when you were three minutes late to the building of the Cabinet of Ministers: “I wish we had a zone, which prisoner would go in and never come out …!”
Your words were fulfilled in the remote corner of the Kungrad district of Karakalpakstan. In record time a three-storeyed building was erected. On 7-9 June 1999 while second and third floors had not been finished yet, the construction iron rods were still hanging in the walls then already religious-political prisoners were brought in cargo planes from Tuzel airport in Tashkent to “JASLYK”. They were all tied. Yes, they were tied up!!!
As if hand-cuffs were not enough, the prisoners were tied up to long cables stretched from one end of the plane to another. Armed with hand-guns and Kalashnikov machine-guns people in masks were standing ready to shoot down the prisoners who made a slightest move. And the same number of dogs stood ready to tear them apart. 7 June there were four and 8 June there was one flight from Tuzel to “JASLYK”. This was the first delivery. The arrivals were met with “ceremonies”. Hundreds of armed soldiers in armoured personnel carriers, countless number of dogs and militia officers were thirsty for blood. Clubs, iron rods, iron angles in their hands were literally demanding: “Blood, blood, blood!!!”
Poor prisoners were let out of the “funnel” one by one and beaten with clubs, iron rods, and angles on all body parts. They also used their fists and legs for beating. Out of 100 prisoners five were beaten to death there and then – Mashrab, Abdumalik, Obidjon, Jurakhon and Shukhrat. Others were drowned in their own blood. Five had their ribs, pelvises, shoulders, jaws, spines, legs, arms broken, livers and kidneys knocked out …
Everywhere blood was streaming, moans and screams were heard … It was human blood, the blood of the sons of the Uzbek nation. Afterwards those prisoners who were lying on the ground unconscious were stripped of their clothes and dragged to cells naked. Doors were almost 1 metre thick. Inside the cells there were three layers of iron reinforcement. Even the executioners had hard time opening and closing them. It is prohibited to talk between prisoners. It is also prohibited to gesticulate, laugh, cry, lament, or even to look at each other. Prisoners sit and walk bent, their heads lowered, arms hand-cuffed at the back of their heads. If someone manages to get anything inside the prison all prisoners will be beaten. Any militia officer should be answered to by standing on the knees. It is prohibited to look in the face of a militia officer. If any prisoners have visitors from their families or relatives, militia officers warn: “If you wish to come out of this place alive, do not tell them about the 12 provisions! ...” I personally was ordered several times not to say anything about them. However during a meeting with my wife I deliberately opened water taps in the toilet and shower and under this noise showed her and taught her all the 12 provisions. It took a long time. However, it bore its fruit via BBC … If there is a commission coming to the camp from abroad militia officers repeat the same words: “If you tell them how you are tortured here we will kill you. Commissions come and go but we stay …”
This is a totally closed prison. A cage is much better than that. At least you can see a street from a cage. Prisons like Karaulbazar or Andijan (covered) prisons are nothing in comparison with “JASLYK” … Here prisoners serve long sentences in low security or strict regime. These prisoners are brought to “JASLYK” on purpose. As you can see, Mr President, MIA itself breaks the laws … And breaking the laws MIA refers to the “above” … However the fact is concealed, “JASLYK” is not a prison, it is a zone. And not a regular prison, but a death prison!!! Hell of the prison!!! The best sons of the Uzbek nation are purposefully murdered here. When a prisoner is brought to the brink of death (after his lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, stomach, brain, etc. are knocked out), then he is taken to Tashkent, to Sangorod.
The prisoners die on rough roads between “JASLYK” and Nukus (380 km), in a “funnel”, in the Nukus prison, on the train, and Sangorod. … Abdukhakim, Khamidulla, Komiljon, Dilmurod, Ibrokhim – are only a few of such prisoners. Documents are drawn for each of them stating that they died a natural death. But is it possible to cover a moon by the edge of a dress, Mr President? The whole nation knows about it … There isn’t a single secret that could be hidden from people. Maybe only temporarily. Later on everything will become clear …
With the exception of the first delivery of inmates all others were brought to “JASLYK” by train. As I said before we were in the fourth delivery. We were all beaten to blood. It was difficult to know who was alive and who was dead. … I recovered consciousness on the second floor in cell No. 19, I was lying there naked. My mouth and nose were bleeding, two fingers were broken; they were hanging. ... Prisoner does not see anything beyond his cell. From other cells horrible moans, screams and weeping is heard … Under the beatings and curse of militia officers we put on some old clothes. … It is prohibited to bring not only pen and paper to the cell, but even soap. Everything is prohibited. To go to toilet one needs to obtain permission … Sometimes bladders burst. Those who have diarrhoea have especially hard time. Even if you ask permission a thousand times they won’t give it to you … It is compulsory to fulfil 11 provisions. There were 12 of us in the cell. All except me were young. They said that these 11 provisions were developed by MOSSAD (secret service of Israel)”. I did not say anything, because it is useless… The provisions are simple, but when you repeat those hundreds and thousands of times you either faint or you die. And that happens there every day. The food is so scarce that even a mouse would eat more … A loaf of bread half size of the normal loaf is divided between eight persons. Each person is given four, maximum five spoons of boiled rice and one sip of tasteless tea. If there is “parcel” from home, militia officers take it away… Also barbarian doctors rob the prisoners... I call them barbarians, because they beat up the sick prisoners, curse them and speed up their death. I personally lost 49 packs of cigarettes (mainly, “XON” and some of “CARVON”), 19 cans of corn beef, bread, candies, and biscuits – a whole bag of stuff. And then a parcel was lost as well … In my personal bag I had underwear, soap and tooth paste.
Militia officers eat at the expense of the prisoners’ nutrition … Here every working day of a militia officer is counted as two days and one month as two months, and each year as two years. Their salary is twice as much as the salary of the militia officers of other zones. They talk about it openly and they boast. A prisoner who eats less than a mouse cannot be good for anything. Exhausting 12 provisions finish up the prisoners’ stamina. In addition, they make them crawl naked under the beds for hours every day; they also make them stand on each other till they reach the ceiling, do squats thousands of times; they splash boiling water on them, put their fingers between the doors and crash them. In addition, they beat them mercilessly three times a day every day. At those times cells become full of dust; prisoners are soaked in their own sweat; they faint and die. If someone does not manage to fulfil one of the provisions on time then all other prisoners are beaten because of him…
Death camps of Hitler and Stalin are trifle in comparison with “JASLYK”. In front of my eyes young people were beaten and killed, they were purposefully infected with incurable diseases, and their internal organs were knocked out … In general, rape and sodomising with clubs being stuck in anuses has become an ordinary thing… I am only writing what I saw and heard myself. Why rule of law, which is being praised so much, is silent now in view of these? Or law enforcement officers stand above the law? On the first day we were forced to fulfil the first out of 12 inhuman provisions 2000 times. All the way through we were cursed and beaten up. The first provision, if translated using Russian and Uzbek languages, literally sounds as follows, “Assalomu alaykum, citizen boss! From the bottom of our hearts we love President of Uzbekistan and people of Uzbekistan. For our crimes we beg forgiveness from the President and from the people of Uzbekistan. Thanks to the master. Food is good. Health is good. There are no complaints or criticism. Uzbekistan is my Motherland. To love the Motherland is evidence of faith. I love Uzbekistan from the bottom of my heart!!!...”
On the second day we were forced to fulfil the second provision – 16 hours motionless we stood with hands folded behind our heads. I was exhausted and fell down. Devils started beating me on the heels with clubs and I recovered consciousness. Then they dragged me out of the cell into the corridor. After me Komiljon Akhmad ugly and Dilmurod Umarov from Fergana were brought out. They are young lads. In front of my eyes they were drowned in their own blood. “Traitors of Motherland! – shouted the tall “dubak” (a name given in the zone to the officer on duty with a club) – Why do you fake a fall?!” and again they started beating us with clubs. I squatted. Then the militia officers asked us: “Who is the prophet? Who is the God?” – I am quoting their questions word by word. We did not respond. He asked these questions again. Komiljon said everything he knew about God and His prophet. “It is a lie! – said the rabid “dubak”. – The prophet and God is Karimov!!! If he says “hang”, we will hang you; if he says “cut”, we will cut you; if he says “burn” we will burn you. We only believe in the god, which we see with our own eyes. Karimov is a live God. Whatever he says “be” will be. And the God you are talking about nobody has seen yet. Your Mohammed is a liar, who lied to everybody. There is no paradise no hell. Nobody has returned from there. The last place of a human is grave. After that you rot. Now all of you in chorus say: “Karimov is God! Come on! One, two, three, go …”
“Dubak” didn’t finish what he was saying. Two internal service officers came in and dragged me to the office of the head of the death camp Omon Bobojonov. There in the arm-chair in the far end of the office the First Deputy Head of the Main Department of Punishment Execution (GUIN) MIA of Uzbekistan Ravshan Sarikov was sitting; he looked tired and deep in thought. Somehow he seemed like a reasonable person to me. I introduced myself. He showed me to a seat and looking attentively at me, asked:
- Did you take part in the organization of bombings in Tashkent and attempting on the life of the President?
- No, colonel. I am here due to slander.
- Hmm… Is there a difference between “JASLYK” and zone 46?
- Shall I speak honestly?
- Of course.
- As heaven and earth …
- And who do you think committed the bombings?
- I don’t know … But Mukhammad Salikh is not part of this. He is being slandered. (I must say that in “JASLYK” all prisoners are subjected to repeated interrogation).
- Maybe bombings were carried out by Russian secret service?
- I don’t know … However, those who did it are having a nice life at the moment … Time will come and everything will be disclosed …
- Where are you from?
- From Bagdon, one of the villages in Farish ,,, I cannot cope with torture, colonel, I have a sick heart. Shoot me. Or I will hang myself!
He pondered for a while. Then, hiding his thoughts, he pressed the button under the table. Two “dubaks” rushed into the office. Colonel ordered me to leave the room. “Dubaks” came out a minute later. They brought me to cell 19; they were not cursing me and they were not beating me… Over two months I lost 24 kg. I was too weak to walk.
Other prisoners also turned into skeletons. Dilmurad Umarov had stopped walking, He died inside the cell.
Komiljon Makhmudov died in Sangorod. To be exact, they both were beaten to death. I remember their words: “We are dying for faith; it means we will go to paradise…” In “JASLYK” or to be more exact, in cell 19 nobody was afraid of nothing. These are not high-flown words; all those charged under Article 159 faced death with dignity. Deep inside, I was proud of these sons of the Uzbek nation. Torture and death, on the contrary, temper their spirit, make their faith stronger. They breed an uncompromising wrath … And I am saying this not only based on cell 19, but also based on all religious-political prisoners. In their heart nobody renounced their beliefs. They only repudiated it with their tongues … There is the “Baqara” sura [verse] in Quran, which allows to do that, that is, to refuse with a tongue …Mister President, I am sorry but I have to tell you the truth. It might be useful for you. All persons charged under Article 159 consider the culprit behind torture, oppression and degrading treatment to be you and not the law enforcement bodies. They say, “He himself stands at the head of this…”
1 July 2000 I was again sent to zone 46. The road to Nukus was horrible. It was scorching hot in the “funnel”. On that road prisoners skinny and sick with tuberculosis (three sick prisoners were sent to Sangorod), collapse from jolting: as soon as you lifted up one of them, another one would fall. They gasped for air and they murmured: “Water … Water…” Our clothes became wet soaked with sweat. In the Nukus prison I was put in a cell with prisoners, who were ill with tuberculosis, and we were beaten and humiliated by the insulting word “vovchiks”, “traitors of motherland”. For three-four days we were subjected to torture in the Nukus prison. And then again, we were put on train. The train was packed with prisoners. It was extremely hot. From endless torture in “JASLYK” a prisoner called Abdukhalim who used to work as a shepherd’s assistant in Kasansay district of Namangan looked like a skeleton. He died on the train before we reached Chardjou. I was with him, I supported him. “Be patient, in Sangorod you will recover, hang in there” – I kept telling him. But he died. His last words were, “Savages killed me. They knocked out my lungs … Now my three children will be orphans … La illaha illalah, Mohammad-ur Rasululloh (There is no God except Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet) …”
In zone 46 I spent 16 days in the medical unit. They did infusions to me. One day I went outside and fell on the ground from weakness. When I recovered I was lying in the ward, all soaked in sweat. Doctors were fussing around me. “In such cases 90% of patients die; this is probably the one who is loved by God” – I overheard them talking. Over 16 days, which I spent in the medical unit, 5 prisoners died before they reached Sangorod. On the 16th day I was sent to Sangorod as a matter of urgency. I was too weak to talk. On the train they put me in a separate cage. After a while they put a prisoner named Jaloliddin into my cage. He had AIDS. Not knowing that he had AIDS I drank water from the same bottle with him. Thus, I arrived in Sangorod. In Sangorod several prisoners die every day. If we count all those who died over the years of Independence there will be thousands, dozens of thousands, to be more accurate. .. I was treated for 8 month and 18 days. I gradually recovered. Doctors treated me well. It appeared I had 12 diseases. I had an ulcer in my stomach. I “received” it in “JASLYK”. They wanted to operate on me. However, I refused to be operated in writing.
From 16 June 2001 I am in the Chirchik zone. Head of the zone G.E. Ravinsky is a rather reasonable person. His treatment of those charged under Article 159 is not as cruel as in other zones. In Sangorod I started writing a novel in verses about the Arab invasion. The novel relates about Buhrhudot, Hotin, Tagmod, Mukanna. Here I am continuing to work on the novel. However, due to poor health (especially this year) I take frequent breaks … Mister President, no one among those charged under Article 159 falls under amnesty, because they are buried under reprimands and penalties. Other prisoners who were convicted with us for 15-20 years are released under amnesty. However, in relation to those charged under Article 159 “RULE OF LAW” does not work. For the fifth year I haven’t fallen under any amnesty. This year they haven’t even reduced my sentence term although I did not have reprimands or penalties. Is it not abuse of the LAW?! I had to be released due to my age. However, they are playing games with me… In the Year of the Elderly not a single “elderly” convict under Article 159 was amnestied. The Amnesty Decree says, “… Pursuant to the decision of the administration” this paragraph was turned into a source of income … If President’s Amnesty is independent and accessible then helpless people have hard time, … and administration can celebrate its rule … I am inside all of this. … I hope you believe me … I wrote everything honestly and without prejudice. “In this world, fast moving as a wind, the only thing that stays is the kindness” – said Oguzkhan. I beseech you to release me. I hope that I and my family will not be subjected to pressure due to what I wrote here.
Mamadali MAKHMUDOV (Evril TURON),
Writer in Prison
4 April 2003, Chirchik