Today, in Uzbekistan, where free voices are being severely silenced, practically no one dares not even to promote, but just to express anti-governmental ideas. But this is not the case of dissident poet Yusuf Juma, as his poems are full of passion and concern about his country and martyr nation, interlaced with the calls for democracy and rule of law.
Yusuf Juma (Jumaev) was born in 1958 in Bukhara region of Uzbekistan. He started writing poems from his early ages at high school. His poetry was mainly focused on the vital problems of his community, like dismantling the aerodrome, which had been host for planes that sprayed fields with pesticides that harmed people’s health. Already at that time, Juma was pressurized by the Soviet government, and when it collapsed, Juma openly criticized the new authortires too, because former soviet-communist officials — apparatchiks — still remained in power.
The Andijon events made Yusuf Juma write a series of poems entitled “Andijon turkumidan” [From the Andijon collection – Uzbek]. Together with his sons and companions, Juma organized several rallies urging the government to release dissident poets and human rights activists from jail. From this time, Yusuf Juma and his family became a target for the National Security Agency (SNB).
He and his family members were several times accused of fabricated crimes. In July 25, 2007, his son Mashrab was imprisoned, and one month later he was released as his guilt was not proven. December 10, 2007, was the worst day in the Jumaevs’ life. Late at night, a group of Special Forces of Uzbekistan attacked Juma’s house. Although Juma and his family managed to escape then, a week later they were arrested by SNB and are reportedly tortured in custody.
As the state controlled media in Uzbekistan are certainly staying away from such topics, the critically-minded blogs in Uzbekistan often publish works of Yusuf Juma and articles about him. Blog Rizobek writes that Yusuf Juma is not a criminal, but a national hero. Therefore, it is not him that has to be brought to trial, but those who have put him in jail:
Not Yusuf Juma, but those who attacked him must be brought to trial. Not Yusuf Juma, but those who legitimized this persecution must be brought to trial. Not Yusuf Juma, but those who could not stand his free voice must be brought to trial. Not Yusuf Juma, but those, who mock democracy and back and benefit from autocracy must be brought to trial! [uzb]
News Agency UzNews.net is calling on its readers to support imprisoned Y.Juma by sending the letters of support to the presidential administration's press service:
Yusuf Juma’s courage does not surprise, but strikes us. Notwithstanding cruelty and treachery of the current regime — that bristled up with its police forces and armored troop-carriers against the whole world and its own nation — Yusuf Juma, who is originally from a remote area of Bukhara, is declaring his disagreement with it… [ru]
Muhiddin at neweurasia, who closely knows Yusuf Juma, published the poet's letter, where he wrote about the armed attack at his house and how his family escaped:
We ran barefoot. Only three of us could escape – my wife, me and my youngest son. Other two sons could not escape and stayed in the house surrounded by armed men. We hid behind the water cistern. Special squad soldiers went to my room and shooting there… We couldn't stand this sound anymore and we were really scared. We ran away through our neighbor’s ditch in the backyard…[uzb]
Opposition blog Turonzamin, which frequently publishes Yusuf Jumas works, recently declared that opposition parties and Uzbek dissidents abroad are promoting Juma for a Nobel Prize in Literature:
We are promoting Yusuf Juma as a candidate for the Nobel Prize with the help of Dr. Botir Norboi. He has sent a letter to the Nobel Prize committee, stating that Yusuf Juma is the best nominee. Juma is now in prison and faces tortures. He needs our help. The world must know about people like him [uzb].