Umida Akhmedova Jailed 38


This photo evokes so much of what I love about Uzbekistan and its people. Unfortunately it is not the officially approved image of Gulnara Karimova’s shiny new conference centres and resorts. The photographer, Umida Akhmedova, has therefore been charged with “Defaming Uzbekistan”. It carries a potential 6 year prison sentence.

The offence cited is publishing these photographs,

and making a short documentary film critical of the traditional custom that girls have to prove their virginity on their wedding day.

I am particularly touched by Umida’s plight, because it was on precisely the same charge that the 63 year old Mrs Avazova was jailed after passing to me photographs of her dissident son, who had been boiled alive in Jaslyk prison.

To help the campaign for Umida and other political prisoners in Uzbekistan, please contact Amnesty International.

Obama’s envoy Richard Holbrooke is currently visiting Tashkent to agree new military cooperation agreements between the Karimov regime and the USA.

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38 thoughts on “Umida Akhmedova Jailed

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  • Caroline

    I’ve just listened to the play and it reminded me to thank you for giving me faith that there are (were?)still a few people in ruling positions who put human rights above politics. After reading your story at the time I’d wanted to do this and now I can.

    The play asks what you did that was brave. I think the answer is that you stood by your belief in what was right while knowing it would destroy your career. It’s a sad world where career is more important than telling the truth about appalling things that any country claiming to be civilised should be doing everything to prevent.

    Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right for which no one should be imprisoned.

  • Andy

    I heard the play today as I luckily had a cold so stayed in bed with the radio on .. I feel very moved by your story. Looking down your blog I see somewhere you say something about doing something about the current corrupt and dishonest regime in the UK. The genuine question I have is ‘What exactly?’ I don’t want to be too doom and gloom and in a way I am asking someone to convince me I am wrong, but is is not the case that the world is completely in the grip of people who lie somewhere in the range between amoral and greedy lying psychopath? I really don’t think that a change of government will make much difference. Is there any evidence to believe that it would?

  • martyn

    Caroline… u need to be compelled by a result without wasting yourself or is justice compelling enough? Somethings you do without knowing whsat the effects might be and you do them because as Vaclav Havel says you choose to live in the truth. Its the part that never dies.Get creative, I have.You are free , use it.

  • andygs

    Craig, this entry’s picture is too big for your blog, to save your time I made a smaller 640×424 version you can replace it with if you like:

    ( its best to download it and then re-upload it as it will slow the blog if you hotlink )


    I don’t know what to say about Akhmedova’s punishment for taking her fine pictures, and yet she is one of thousands taken. It’s too wrong. Sorry.

  • Chris Harwin

    Just finished listening on Listen Again. Makes a mockery of democracy to think we are “represented” by these faceless, gutless bastards. Sad thing is we’re teaching the rest of the World to play this terrible game of “fool the people”. Make no mistake, the Americans won’t rest until they’ve done to the World what they did to the Native Americans, and all in the name of God.

  • Tom

    Thanks for publicizing the case of Umida Akhmedova, Craig. Your headline, however, is slightly misleading. As far as I know, Akhmedova was not jailed prior to her trial; she was “only” barred from leaving the country.

    Unfortunately, at the trial itself (on February 10), she was convicted as charged. The judge, however, immediately pardoned her – allegedly, in connection with some kind of general amnesty in honor of the eighteenth anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence.

    I can’t help but thinking that this strange outcome had less to do with Uzbek independence and more to do with the incredible international solidarity campaign on Umida’s behalf.

    Which is exactly the point that David Tenant-as-you makes in what for me was the most moving part of the BBC play (your/his speech to the Uzbek villagers): that all we have is solidarity.

  • Polo


    The width of the photo above is driving your print off the right of the screen both here and in your main blog.

    Makes it very difficult to read.

    You might try reducing the size of the photo.

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