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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  • Andrew Rudd

    The radio programme is drawing to a close and I have found it enthralling, disturbing and moving. I was just trying to form the next sentence in this comment, when I heard you/David Tennant on the radio say about “..principle not being principle unless you are willing to pay the price..” and it summed up something in which I believe strongly and for which you will now stand as an example.

    Thank you for speaking up.


  • jackie

    have just listened to the play. It was excellent. Your story has inspired me. Keep up the good work. We need many more brave people like you.

  • anna linley

    Very brave to show your self up to the world, warts and all. Had to look you up as soon as the play finished to find out more.


  • W kennedy

    A tremendous play. I shall now read the book and follow your deliberations on your web site. Thank you.

  • wood

    If the story was not so interesting it would have infuriated me.Delighted that even at my age I can still be infuriated by this example of the total abuse of state power.

  • Frank MUGFORD

    You’re my sort of person Craig; that disingenuous little sh1t Straw should be in the dock at The Hague along with B.Liar et al.

    Terrific play; thank goodness there are people like you around.

    Decent honest folk must stand up and be counted.

    Incidentally it seems that Obama can quickly opine about Tiger Woods’s apology but can’t find the time to come out and say that Nazirael is doing very cruel and unpleasant things in the illegally occupied Palestinian Territories, amongst so many other sinful things that the US of A(read CIA) do all over the World.

  • Nicholas Kientsch

    I have just finished listening to todays play on radio four. I started to listen out of curiosity to hear David Tennant in a different role, but within a short period I had forgotten I was listening to David Tennant and instead became enthralled in the content of the play. Thank you for allowing such an honest and open account of your time as ambassador to be published and broadcast. Whilst there are things in the play it might have been tempting to hide, the fact you are able to show yourself in such an unedited manner gives me greater confidence in what you say.

    It is a shameful story, and gives the lie to our government’s claim to represent any values other than those of narrow self interest and self survival. In supporting the United States in its war on terror we were like the weak boy in the school playground chosing to stand by the school bully in the hope it would give us security. Instead it has reduced our standing in the world.

    We have a history in the West of supporting regimes as long as they are useful to us and of then suddenly realising what a brutal dictatorship they are when we no longer need them. The shah of Iran was our man, to be looked after and protected, but once deposed we would not even consider letting him live in Britain as the foreign office had an eye on selling arms to the new regime. Apparently before becoming Prime minister Margret Thatcher had assured him that she would be ashamed not to offer him residence. Shortly after becoming Prime minister and being briefed by the foreign office her view changed. How sad that there seem to be so few men and women of principle in high office and how refreshing to here a man of spirit and honour speak out.

    Thank you. I wish you well and hope that you are able to shine a light on the corruption and deceit that our leaders would rather have hidden in the darkness arrising from fear and self serving that must keep many people in your situation silent.

  • dreoilin

    It was great, Craig. I swallowed a big lump in my throat at one stage. I thought you were blessed to have David Tennant. I do hope you were pleased with it yourself. I’ve read Murder in Samarkand, and I felt it was very close. Congrats.

  • Tessabell

    I really enjoyed the play, just brilliant to have something so though provoking on radio these days. The whole Bush / Blair chapter was always murky. I marched against war in Iraq knowing it to be ‘unjust’ because nothing said then or now was convincing. But, were do we go now?

  • Nigel

    This got posted to your Jan 29 blog by mistake:

    A very thought provoking and questioning play, thank you. Our politicians have much to answer for, condoning torture and murder throughout these countries to gain information under the guise of solid information. I greatly admire what you tried to do and thank the producers of the play for reminding me of your own personal ordeal. I wish you well and your future work.

  • frog2

    It was better than I feared, and the BBC did a very respectable job publicising it beforehand .

    Goood luck ,frogdave

  • Beaban

    Thank you for letting us know what went on. I admire your stand against hypocracy and deceit. Iam currently reading ‘Listening to Grasshoppers’ by Arundhati Roy which speaks of state abuses in India. Many people still believe the British Government to have ‘clean hands’ when it comes to torture and human rights. It is so important that their behaviour and attitudes are exposed. How else can it be stopped? Once again thank you.

  • Sara

    I haven’t read your book. I was driving, had the Radio on 4, came in half way through the play, parked up and listened to most of it. Very interesting how the FO “stitched” you up…

    However, another area that did sadden me was your treatment of your wife, the affairs through your marriage etc., and putting her in a very difficult position of supporting your efforts to clear your name and return to

    Uzbekistan, whilst knowing you were having an affair. Yes, I know it was her choice, but one which any woman would find extremely difficult.

    I would disagree with poster pete that womanising and human rights is a being grounded in an embodied humanity…and I won’t state the obvious either!

    Good luck to you Craig and hopefully you’ll continue with your activism towards an outrageous violation of human rights in Uzbekistan.

  • khadija

    congratulations and well done to david hare and BBC radio 4 for being so brave. i read your book a couple of years ago craig, but couldn’t finish it – too upsetting. i am involved in a campaign myself; to stop incommunicado detention and torture in spain. amnesty international is closely involved. go to and put mohammed fahsi in search.

  • Lynne

    Amazing play by David Hare. I admire your courage in standing up for human rights, and was sorry for the way the FCO acted.

    Good luck to you in continuing to highlight human rights abuses.

    The use of torture goes on, it seems, and the way it affects the war on terror was well brought out.

    It made me mad – hence the poem on my blog.

  • M

    Heard the play on radio 4, if even half of that really happened, and I’m sure most of it did, you’ve had an interesting time of it.

    Well done!


  • martyn

    Thank you so much…i have been informing people on my social network in Pune India(Pune Bomb Blast re -German Bakery four days ago) about the connection between jihadism and Uzbek energy reserves/multinational investment and regional / Afghan wars.

    We must engage at every level as ex President Havel inspiringly wrote from his prison cell.Every day.Power is relational and Akhmedova adds to the end result. Be inspired by her and let her jailing be a strength and voice for all like her.Love.

  • Dilys

    Hope you’re very pleased with the play. It was brilliant. And thanks for Umida Akhmedova’s unforgettable photos. I wish she could know how many people are thinking about her.

  • Johnnie Muir

    First class! And no wonder it went out on Saterday afternoon on Radio 4…

    The politburo would never have tolerated it any other time…and where are you standing this time round?

  • Vronsky

    This is off-topic (maybe) and I’m flinging it in, just in case Mark is reading.

    I didn’t think they could close this down, but they have. Have they?

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