UPDATE: According to UzNews and info from the Choriev family in the US, all seven adult protestors (minor children were spared the fine) were fined 75 times the monthly minimum wage for “holding an illegal demonstration” that the demonstrators say never took place. The total fine for the group comes to some $15,500. According to activists, for protestors to be beaten unconscious, robbed, and then fined to the maximum extent of the law is unprecedented in their experience. The beleaguered activists also gave more details about the group of women who attacked them: according to Malohat Eshonkulova, she recognized one of the attackers from a group that beat a visiting Russian activist severely three years ago; Hasan Choriev’s relatives reported that the same women who attacked them at the protest had been following them as they traveled to try to investigate the claims against him since June 27.
The Choriev family’s massive protest in front of the Uzbek Embassy in Washington DC last week in defense of their father, Hasan, and all political prisoners in Uzbekistan was peaceful, orderly, and held without interference. A much smaller protest by other family members held in their home region of Uzbekistan today met a very different response. According to separate reports from Ozodlik, Uznews and information from the family, a group of relatives and two activists attempted to hold a picket this morning in front of the Qashqadaryo Prosecutor’s Office in Qarshi, where they were attacked by a group of around 20 women who beat them at tore at their clothing and hair. Ozodlik reports that several men in plainclothes stood by and appeared to supervise the beating. According to Uznews, two of the women–Hasan’s youngest daughter and Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan activist Elena Ulraeva–were beaten so badly that they lost consciousness.
According to all reports, the group consisted of a Choriev family members–mostly women and children–Ulraeva and Birdamlik Uzbekistan chief Malohat Eshonkulova, who subsequently spoke to Ozodlik. The group had applied for permission to hold the demonstration, notifying the authorities of the time and place they planned to hold it. The group of women and the unidentified men who accompanied them were waiting at the site. After beating them severely, the attackers took took the demonstrator’s cameras, mobile phones, and other electronics and dragged them into the police station, according to Uznews.
The 71-year old elder Choriev’s St. Louis-based son, Bahodyr, is the founder and head of Birdamlik (Solidarity). The demonstrators hoped to bring attention to what they believe are thoroughly fabricated rape charges filed against him last month after local prosecutors threatened him multiple times that he would suffer if his son’s political activities didn’t cease. According to Uzbekistan-based Birdamlik and human rights activists, the apartment where the alleged victim supposedly lived and where prosecutors claim the rape took place has been empty for over a year, and Hasan Choriev was being interviewed–and threatened–in the Qashqadaryo Prosecutor’s office during the time the prosecution alleges the crime took place.
The Choriev sons are planning another event in Washington next week.