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.