Uzbekistan Releases Yusuf Juma

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by Noah Tucker on 5/20/2011

Eurasianet has the story early today of the release of Yusuf Juma, the Bukharan poet and activist who was jailed in 2008 after publishing a series of controversial poems that became an anthem of sorts for protests related to the Andijon events of 2005.

Convicted of slander and on two counts of resisting arrest (articles 140, 219 and 105), Juma was sentenced to five years in prison. Only adding to the the alarm of many human rights groups and onlookers concerned about the precedent being set for freedom of speech in Central Asia, shortly into his sentence Juma was inexplicably transferred to Jaslyk–Uzbekistan’s maximum security prison colony notorious for allegations of widespread torture and abuse of inmates.

His release today is reportedly an act of clemency directly from the president in honor of the upcoming 20th anniversary of Uzbek independence.

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Noah Tucker is managing editor at and an associate at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. Noah is a researcher and consultant for NGO, academic and government clients on Central Asian society and culture. He has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002--specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict and social media--and received an MA from Harvard in Russian, E. European and Central Asian Studies in 2008. He has spent four and half years in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan, and returned most recently for fieldwork in Southern Kyrgyzstan in the summers of 2011 and 2012.

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