H.R. v. Republic of Uzbekistan
H.R., a survivor of the May 2005 massacre in Andijan, Uzbekistan, has filed a petition before the UN Human Rights Committee accusing the Uzbek police and security services of subjecting him to torture and illegal detention in 2003 and 2004, violating his right to life through the indiscriminate use of force, and failing to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for carrying out torture and killing during the Andijan massacre.
The government of Uzbekistan, through its national security service (SNB) began targeting H.R., the operator of a successful flour mill, and other businessmen in Andijan for intimidation in the early 2000s. On April 11, 2003, H.R. was detained by the SNB and beaten up by four men who accused him of being a member of an illegal religious group. When they released him the next day, they demanded that he return every second day for further interrogation and abuse.
This episode would mark the beginning of a more than two-year period during which he was repeatedly threatened, harassed, detained, interrogated, and, in the worst episodes, tortured. His interrogations were intended to coerce him into providing false evidence against prominent businessmen in Andijan who were accused of religious extremism.
In the most severe instance, from May 7 to 8, 2004, he was held overnight at the district police department and severely tortured. Four SNB officers beat his head and neck repeatedly with batons until he lost consciousness. Fearing his death, the SNB and police had H.R. taken to the hospital where he stayed for 23 days, undergoing medical treatment, during which he was in a coma for four days.
H.R. and his family repeatedly complained to the authorities about his detention and torture, seeking to have the violations committed by the SNB investigated. His mother-in-law submitted several complaints to the general prosecutor’s office, the Andijan regional prosecutor’s office, and even to the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The authorities refused to investigate.
The trial of 23 prominent businessmen targeted by the government and accused of “extremism” commenced on February 11, 2005. The government of Uzbekistan’s charges against the men are widely believed to have been unfair, and their cases were characterized by a range of procedural violations, including abuse in pre-trial detention and coerced confessions. H.R. received a summons to testify at the trial, where he appeared in late April 2005. He explained to the court that he had been unlawfully detained and tortured by the SNB, with no apparent response from the court. When he refused to provide fabricated evidence against the businessmen, the court asked him to leave.
On 13 May 2005, the day of the Andijan massacre, H.R. had travelled to the city's hospital for treatment of injuries caused by torture. That morning, thousands of unarmed demonstrators gathered at Bobur Square in Andijan to protest the show trial of 23 prominent businessmen, the poor state of the economy, and government repression. H.R. joined the crowd. In the afternoon, government forces began firing indiscriminately into the crowd, killing and injuring numerous unarmed demonstrators, including women and children.
The government also blocked most of the exit routes from the square and forced fleeing demonstrators down a single corridor, which the government lined with snipers and armored vehicles. Government forces opened fire, again indiscriminately, and killed hundreds of the fleeing demonstrators. H.R. proceeded down the corridor with men on each side. First, the man on his right was killed—shot at the bridge of his nose. Then, immediately afterward, the man on the left side was shot in the head and killed. He continued, covered in blood and human remains, passing numerous victims who fell and were pulled to the sides of the road.
Many of those who survived the attack, including H.R., were too frightened to return home, and instead walked through the night toward the Kyrgyzstan border, approximately 12 kilometers away. The group was pursued by government forces and fired on during their flight. With approximately 545 other men, women, and children, H.R. crossed into Kyrgyzstan on the following morning.
On July 29, 2005, nearly 500 Andijan refugees in Kyrgyzstan, including H.R., were flown to Romania by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On November 16, 2005, H.R. was transferred from Romania to the Netherlands, where he settled. His family was eventually able to join him in 2009.
He continues to receive medical care for the injuries he suffered as a result of his torture and the trauma sustained during the massacre and forced expulsion.
Open Society Justice Initiative Involvement
H. R. is represented by the Open Society Justice Initiative and Mutabar Tadjibayeva, founding director of the human rights NGO the Fiery Hearts Club. The Fiery Hearts Club was initially founded in the Ferghana Valley region of Uzbekistan and is now registered and operating in exile in Paris.
Unlawful and arbitrary detention: H.R. was repeatedly detained by SNB and the police. His detention was arbitrary and unlawful in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR, as it violated national law and was used to pressure him to fabricate evidence against his business associates.
Torture: H.R. was repeatedly beaten and threatened with violence, both during interrogations and afterward based on his answers in violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR.
Lack of safeguards: The government of Uzbekistan failed to properly register the detention of H.R. and to provide him with prompt access to an independent lawyer in further violation of Articles 7 and 2(3) of the ICCPR.
Violations of the right to life and personal security: The indiscriminate and repeated use of deadly force put the lives of thousands of civilians including H.R. in grave danger, in violation of the positive obligation to protect life under Article 6 of the ICCPR. It also placed the security of H.R. and other surviving persons at grave risk, in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR.
Forced expulsion: Following the massacre, H.R. and over 500 protesters fled, marching for more than 10 hours, because the domestic authorities had made it unsafe to remain in their country. By creating conditions where H.R. was required to flee his home, family, and country to avoid being killed, the government violated Article 12(1) and (4) of the ICCPR.
Failure to investigate killings and torture: The government of Uzbekistan has failed to investigate torture of H.R. and also repeatedly refused to conduct an impartial or effective investigation into violations by security officials at the Andijan massacre in further violations of Articles 6 and 7 of the ICCPR, in conjunction with Article 2(3).
Failure to provide redress: The government of Uzbekistan failed to provide adequate redress, including compensation and other reparations, for the multiple violations committed during the massacre in Andijan as well as any remedy to H.R. for his arbitrary detention and torture in further violation of Articles 6(1), 7 and 9 of the ICCPR in conjunction with Article 2(3).
The Committee decides that the communication is inadmissible under article 3 of the Optional Protocol, with two members issuing a dissenting opinion.
H.R. files a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee.
H.R. resettles in the Netherlands.
H.R. is flown with several hundred other refugees from Kyrgyzstan to Romania by the UNHCR.
The Andijan massacre takes place and H.R. is forcibly expelled from Uzbekistan.
H.R. is taken to the district police department where he is detained for the entire night and severely tortured.
Uzbekistan's National Security Service and police repeatedly threaten, detain, interrogate, and abuse H.R. in the National Security Building and Criminal Investigation Department in Andijan.
H.R. is first detained and tortured at the Uzbekistan National Security Service building.
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