X-Judy Entry Number 3: Another Offering from Uzbekistan

An anonymous submission demonstrating, once again, just how dangerous it can be to report the news:

Central Asia is, literally, murder on journalists. They are beaten, detained, vanished, and killed with depressing regularity throughout the region. One of the most egregious examples is Alisher Saipov, a skinny young guy who had a wife and a daughter who was three months old when she lost her dad.

Alisher Saipov was killed on October 24th, 2007. He was a freelance journalist and an outspoken critic of the Uzbek government. He was murdered in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, less than an hour from the border with Uzbekistan. He was 26, and he was shot once in the leg and twice in the head by a gunman, with a silenced gun, who stepped out of the shadows and then fled. It was seven o’clock in the evening, and just getting dark. Saipov was on his cell phone when it happened. No one has been arrested for Saipov’s murder. Kyrgyz authorities are allegedly still investigating.

Saipov was a journalist for the Voice of America, and he edited the only newspaper in the region that was critical of the Karimov regime – Siyosat, or politics. He wrote about torture – people burned, boiled alive, electrocuted. He wrote about oppression – lack of freedom of movement, lack of freedom of speech. He wrote about the Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan, afraid to go home and constantly under pressure where they were.

His investigations helped to prove that the Uzbek government was kidnapping Uzbek asylum seekers who had fled to Kyrgyzstan. He revealed the climate of fear and coercion that led up to Karimov’s sham of a re-election in Uzbekistan.

Alisher Saipov was afraid of the Uzbeks. He told friends that he was being followed by Uzbek secret police, and he’d been badly beaten in 2006 by unidentified assailants. He wrote anyway. He interviewed banned religious groups, opposition leaders, and people the government had described as terrorists. His newspaper was smuggled into Uzbekistan by people desperate for honest information. The Voice of America eulogized him as “fearless journalist, with impeccable skills and deep knowledge of the region, who was always willing to go to the scene to report events.”

Among the other journalists, and human rights activists, there is no doubt that he was killed by the government of Uzbekistan. It’s been documented that the Uzbek secret police are active in Osh, and this kind of assassination fits their mode of operation.

Kate Cronin-Furman

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