“Until this day I believed in freedom of media and its role in civil liberties in this country [Great Britain]. But information I have read today slightly changed my mind”, Craig Murray says.
Such was a reaction of bloggers all over the world to the decision of the British court to deport Jahongir Sidikov, an Uzbek asylum seeker, a member of the Uzbek opposition party Erk, back to Uzbekistan. It seems that the Great Britain’s officials do not have any idea how dissidents – and those who have critical views on the current regime in Uzbekistan – are treated in their home country.
Jahongir Sidikov, 27, was born in Uzbekistan in a village of Zangiota, east from the capital city, Tashkent. He majored in finance and worked for PahtaBank, one of the country’s largest banks. In 1999, Sidikov went to England to study at the City University and graduated in 2003 with the BSc degree. The Andijan massacre in May 2005, when hundreds of civilians had been reportedly killed, was a turning point in Jahongir’s life.
Later, he becomes a member of the “Erk” opposition party, which operates in exile being banned in Uzbekistan. Sidikov was one of those who had staged a demonstration in memoriam of the 1st anniversary of the Andijan tragedy in London on May 13, 2006, when he had been filmed by the Uzbek Embassy staff. Back at home, his neighbors and relatives were, as reported, summoned to the police office to identify him on the film.
Jahongir’s asylum claim failed because the court didn’t believe that there was a threat to his life in Uzbekistan. The court also didn’t find the documents submitted by leader of the Erk party Muhammad Solih were genuine. Today, Jahongir Sidikov is kept in custody until he is deported to Uzbekistan on Wednesday, November 28, 2007.
One of the first men to raise an alarm about the issue of Jahongir Sidikov was Craig Murray, a UK ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, who knows well about the Uzbek officials’ attitude towards the dissidents, and therefore is aware what a severe fate Sidikov would face upon comeback to Uzbekistan. Mr. Murray believes that – by deporting Sidikov – the UK officials will commit a grave crime against human rights, which, according to the British laws, must be respected. He writes in his blog that :
“[UK] immigration officers who escort Jahongir onto that plane are in effect implementing capital punishment”.
In his blog, Murray tries to draw closer attention of the British officials, MPs and journos to the issue, but – as he writes – fails to capture their interest. He even called the UK Embassy in Tashkent, but Ambassador Iain Kelly refused to speak. Murray believes that the British Embassy is not a trustworthy organization, and he recommends the Uzbek rights activists not to seek cooperation with it in future.
In 2003, Kelly was deputy to Matthew Kydd, Head of “Whitehall Liasion Department”, the link between the FCO and MI6. Kelly's boss Kydd told me that it had been decided between Richard Dearlove and Jack Straw as a matter of policy that we should use intelligence from torture in the context of the War on Terror, specifically from Uzbekistan, and that this intelligence was “operationally useful”. Kelly is therefore not just passively but actively implicated in the policy of cooperation with the torture of Uzbek dissidents by the intelligence services. He will also have been directly implicated in the use of intelligence obtained by torture through extraordinary rendition, in Uzbekistan and elsewhere.
TravelersPoint urges those, who may be flying on the same plane with Sidikov, quit the flight and insist to take him off the plane:
There are strong grounds for believing he will be tortured there and perhaps executed. If you are traveling to Tashkent from Heathrow, you may find yourself on the same plane as this man. Any tourists to Uzbekistan who find that Jahongir has been forcibly bundled onto their flight should object and insist that he is taken off the plane. Any pilots and airline staff who are asked to transport Jahongir to Uzbekistan should refuse to co-operate.
Tenpercent believes that all the calls being made in the global blogosphere may eventually lead to cancellation of the court’s decision to deport the asylum seeker to his home country, where he will apparently face torture and mistreatment by the government.
A big enough fuss being made over this might overcome the determination by the government to deliver Jahongir Sidikov to the regime and a fate worse than death. So blog about it…
This is Sparta is also greatly concerned over the fate of the asylum seeker and posts different links to the websites and weblogs that discuss the Sidikov case.
It is a great surprise that none of the Central Asian blogs raises the issue of Jahongir Sidikov, although his case concerns the whole Central Asian region. Jahongir was denied an asylum by the British officials and will be deported on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. The European blogs are doing their best to halt the process of deportation. It would be more effective if the Central Asian blogs also joined the anti-deportation campaign too.
Blog about it!!!
Cross-posted on neweurasia.net