A number of MPs have now made representations about Jahongir Sidikov. I have in particular been copied this excellent letter by Bob Marshall-Andrews, queryiing our apparent new policy of deporting to Uzbekistan:
27 November 2007
Mr Liam Byrne MP
Minister of State (Borders and Immigration)
2 Marsham Street
LONDON SW1P 4DF
Re.: Johongir Sidikov Home Office ref. no.: S2185191
I am writing to you about this young man, an Uzbekistan dissident, who is due to be deported tomorrow. He is presently at Harmondsworth Detention Centre. He is no connection with my constituency and, indeed, I have seen no papers relating to the withdrawal of his asylum status. I have been contacted by a friend of mine at Cambridge University who has also provided me with an article written by Craig Murray and I attach a copy for your immediate convenience.
As I have said, I am not aware of the full facts but I am very concerned that we should be deporting dissidents to Uzbekistan, a country which is a notorious reputation for human rights abuse and torture. I had always believed that it was policy not to deport to that country.
In these circumstances I would be very grateful if you would grant a short stay of execution in order that I may acquaint myself with the background with a view to possibly making further representations if that appear to be merited. On a wider level, I would be grateful if you could let me know if it is now government policy to deport political dissidents to Uzbekistan and whether any bi-lateral agreements have been made concerning their treatment.
The urgency is self-apparent and I would be very grateful for an early response.
Bob Marshall-Andrews QC MP
(Dictated by RMA and signed in his absence
As far as I can tell, the Home Office have yet to reply to any of the many representations they have received. They seem determined to go ahead with this deportation. This is bringing increasing international condemnation, inluding this report from Radio Free Europe:
Political Activist Fears Extradition To Uzbekistan
November 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) — Human rights activists are concerned that Britain may deport opposition activist Jahongir Sidikov to Uzbekistan on November 28.
Sidikov and Uzbek rights activists told RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service that he would face immediate arrest, torture, and possible death if deported.
The concern is not unfounded — the UN Committee Against Torture said last week that torture and ill-treatment are “widespread” in Uzbekistan.
Speaking by phone today from a detention center in London, Sidikov expressed fear for his life. “According to the latest news that I have got, they are going to send me back to Uzbekistan on Wednesday. I know that right after my arrival in Uzbekistan I’ll be arrested. I’m afraid that I’ll be persecuted and tortured. I’m really worried for my life.”
Sidikov is a member of Erk, a banned Uzbek opposition party. He came to London to study at the City University in 1999 and then sought unsuccessfully to gain political asylum in Britain.
Full report here:
The deportation is scheduled for tomorrow evening, so there is still time for further representations – though no sign that the Home Office is paying any attention to them. I keep saying this, but I just find it absolutely unbelievable that the UK is starting to deport dissidents back to Uzbekistan.