Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for January 23rd, 2010

Photojournalist Charged With Defaming Uzbeks, Faces 8 Years Jail

Posted by Info on 23/01/2010

Umida Akhmedova, a prominent photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who covers gender, ethnic, and cultural issues, fear of reprisal.

On January 13, investigators with the city police department in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, criminally charged Akhmedova with insulting and libeling the Uzbek people and its traditions through her work, according to international news reports. On Thursday, investigators informed Akhmedova’s lawyer that they had concluded their probe and the case will be transferred to court in the next few days, Akhmedova told CPJ. If convicted on both charges, she could serve up to eight years in jail. Akhmedova is prohibited from leaving the country.

The charges stem from a 2007 album of photographs depicting life in Uzbek villages and a 2008 documentary on the traditional ban on premarital sex. Both were produced with support by the Swiss Embassy in Tashkent, Akhmedova told CPJ.
In the album, titled Women and Men: From Dawn to Dusk,” Akhmedova showed men, women, and children in their daily routine and during traditional rituals. Her documentary—The Burden of Virginity—criticizes the pressure on young women in Uzbekistan to practice abstinence until marriage.

Tashkent police investigator K. Kh. Akbarov, said that results of a “complex expert review” of Akhmedova’s work revealed that “with her unscientific, unsound, and inappropriate comments, which contain hidden implications, are directed at discrediting values and traditions of our people, and hold negative information that can affect moral and psychological conditions of the youth,” she insulted “traditions of the Uzbek people, which is viewed as defamation, scornful, and disrespectful attitude towards national traditions.”

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