Friday, 28 December 2007

Jahongir Sidikov: Encouraging News

Via k at Areopagitica

"Jahongir Sidikov has been released from detention.
His lawyer is putting in a fresh claim for asylum.
He's not safe yet but for now he is free.
It remains important to make a case for the principle that no Uzbek dissidents should be deported to Uzbekistan."

It is not clear what the circumstances are surrounding this decision - the information came to k through a group 'assisting and supporting Jahongir'.

This certainly represents progress, though as k points out the battle is not over. The pressure brought to bear by Craig Murray, Areopagitica and other activists and bloggers (via their MPs and the media in most cases) may have made a difference in giving Jahongir temporary freedom.

But the real campaign, of which Jahongir has been the face as a particularly egregious case of Government neglect of human rights and contempt for international law (Link), is asylum reform.

It was highlighted last week that thousands of asylum seekers face deportation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (Independent). Although the war the engulfed that nation officially ended in 2003 (Link); torture, violence against women and killings by militias remain endemic there, according to a UN report of July 2007 (Reuters).

Neither Uzbekistan nor the DRC could reasonably be described as safe for those denied asylum to be returned to - particularly not those who like Sidikov are known to the authorities as political activists. The Government has shown itself, for whatever reason, to be prepared to overlook this fact. We must not let their contempt be overlooked in turn.

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