Uzbekistan: Release Campaigner against forced labour

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Youths for Human Rights Protection and Transparency Initiative (YARPTI) has strongly condemned  the  arrest of  a campaigner against forced labour in Uzbekistan and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. Elena Urlaeva was arrested ahead of an international meeting where she was scheduled to give evidence on human rights violations, a human rights group said on Friday 3rd March.

In a video recording published online, the veteran activist Elena Urlaeva said she was arrested on Wednesday, beaten by police and taken to a psychiatric clinic in Tashkent, the capital of the Central Asian country.

Urlaeva was due to attend a meeting on Thursday with the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization of Trade Unions to discuss forced labour in the cotton industry.

“The policemen beat me, tearing my clothes, to prevent me from going to a meeting scheduled to take place in Tashkent to discuss the situation of the victims of forced labour in the cotton industry,” Urlaeva said in the video.

A World Bank spokeswoman could not confirm any information regarding Urlaeva’s arrest but a spokesman for the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said they had spoken to Urlaeva’s son to confirm the arrest.

It remained unclear whether Urlaeva had been released and Uzbek authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

One of the few independent rights defenders in Uzbekistan, Urlaeva has regularly been beaten, arrested and sexually abused by Uzbek authorities, according to human rights groups.


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