[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 22:47:35 +0100
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
From: Omer Erdem <turkfed@EURONET.NL>
Subject: Uzbek Opposition leader forced to leave Turkey
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

Uzbek Opposition leader forced to leave Turkey

A dialog from the CenAsia list, November 1997

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 22:47:35 +0100
From: Omer Erdem <turkfed@EURONET.NL>

There are rumours that Uzbek President Kerimov will visit Turkey.

The Uzbek opposition leader Muhammed Salih who was allowed to live in Turkey, short after Wellfare Party was in government is forced to leave Turkey because Kerimov is pressing Turkish authorities.

I spoke today with Muhammed Salih and he confimed this and said that this is second time that he is forced to leave Turkey because of pressure of Kerimov, last time it was in 1994 and he was forced to live 2 years in Germany. mr. Salih said to me that this time he does not know where to go?

Uzbekistan watchers and Human Rights activists: any comments about this? And what to do against Turkeys inhuman behaviour?

You can send your replies and suggestions directly to Erk's email adress (below), also any media coverage and requests to interview Muhammed Salih can be sended to this adress: email:

Home Page of Erk Democratic Party:

Omer Erdem
(on behalf of Erk Democratic Party's Friends in Holland)

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 18:57:37 +0100
From: Mehmet Tutuncu <sota@EURONET.NL>

The rumours are becoming reality he will visit Turkey:

President Karimov will visit President Suleiman Demirel November 17-19. (UzA)

And every time when he visits Turkey Muhammad Salih is extradicted from Turkey, Last time it was in October 1994, and Salih was forced to leave Turkey.

One interesting point is that it is always Salih against whom Kerimov is acting. There are no actions as far as I can see against Abdurrahim Pulatov who is in also living in Turkey. Obviously Kerimov sees Salih as his real opponent.

>You can send your replies and suggestions directly to Erk's email
>adress (below), also any media coverage and requests to interview
>Muhammed Salih can be sended to this adress:
>email: <erk@turkiye.net>
>Home Page of Erk Democratic Party:

There is an error on the Homepage adress:
It should be:

Mehmet Tutuncu
(SOTA) Research centre for Turkestan, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Caucasus and Siberia
P.O. Box 9642
2003 LP Haarlem
The Netherlands
e-mail: <mtutuncu@turkiye.net> or <sota@euronet.nl>
Turkish World Home Page:<http://www.turkiye.net/sota/sota.html>
Crimean Tatars Home-Page: <http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/krimtatar>

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 09:37:13 PST From: Kevin Klose <klosek@HOTMAIL.COM>

On Wed, 12 Nov 1997, Omer Erdem contributed the following message to the Cenasia list:

There are rumours that Uzbek President Kerimov will visit Turkey.

The Uzbek opposition leader Muhammed Salih who was allowed to live in Turkey, short after Wellfare Party was in government is forced to leave Turkey because Kerimov is pressing Turkish authorities."

(end of quotation)

I think that Turkey is doing the right thing. Salih is not a peaceful dissident, but a supporter and a would-like-to-be-organiser of terrorist actions. A few years ago, a handful of terrorists were arrested in Turkey who had arrived from Uzbekistan to receive some training from the Grey Wolves. It turned out that Muhammad Salih, who already then resided in Istanbul, had worked out the scheme. He wanted his men to be trained in the use of bombs & explosives, with the clear intention to use the aquired know-how to perform terrorist actions later in Uzbekistan.

Why should Turkey, fighting for recognition in Europe give shelter to potential terrorists. And it is Turkey's obligation to make president Karimov feel as safe as possible during his visit to the Bosporus.

Salih should follow Abdurahim Pulatov's example and fight Karimov on the ideological front.

I agree, Karimov is not a democrat, in fact he is a dictator, but if the opposition seeks to gain western support they better stick to western methods.

By the way, there is always a place to go for Salih: Tashkent. There are several Human Rights organisations presently in Uzbekistan and their representatives told me only a week ago, that any opposition figure would be safe there.



Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 00:34:51 +0100
From: Mehmet Tutuncu <sota@EURONET.NL>

I am forwarding a letter of Human Rights Watch about Salih extradiction from Turkey.

I must say that I am also very worried about the words of Kevin Klose which without any evidence unjustly accused one of the democratic leaders. I think the reputation of this list is damaged by this kind of messages. And what worries me more is that only a few of the list members have protested against this groundless acusations. Thanks to Mr. Kiasatpour and Mr. Erdem and Mr. Ziljian for their replies, (Omer who had difficulties of posting his reply, but with help of Mr. Baldwin his message is posted at the end. I must admit that on request of Omer I tried to post the message of him also but without any success. So the list at this particular days behaves very strange.

Mehmet Tutuncu

Follows the letter of Human Rights Watch about Salih:

November 18, 1997

President Islam Karimov
Presidential Palace
Republic of Uzbekistan
By facsimile: (7) (3712) 39.55.25

Dear President Karimov,

On behalf of Human Rights Watch, I extend my respects.

Human Rights Watch has welcomed your government's increased readiness to engage in a human rights dialogue over the past several years. We have been encouraged by your country's adoption of legislation that enshrines human rights protections and by the establishment of government agencies responsible for investigating and helping prosecute human rights violations.=

It is therefore with particular alarm that I write to you today regarding the harassment of a leading member of the political opposition, an act that marks a return to abusive state practices your government has pledged to have rejected.

Mohamad Solih, chairman of the Erk Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, one of two leading opposition parties in your country and former presidential contender, was expelled from Turkey on November 15, on the eve of your state visit to that country. He was accompanied by his wife. Mr. Solih fled Uzbekistan in 1993 under intense pressure from security forces and has lived in Turkey since June of this year. Reportedly, on November 12, officials of the Turkish police visited Mr. Solih in his office in Istanbul, explained that you wished Mr. Solih expelled from the country during your visit, offered to pay expenses incurred for Mr. Solih's immediate departure, and invited him to return to Turkey once you had left the country.

In light of past abuse of Mr. Solih, both in Uzbekistan and in Turkey, these allegations of Uzbekistan government responsibility appear highly credible. It is therefore incumbent upon you now to refute these allegations or stand responsible for initiating serious violations of the right to freedom of movement and free expression.

This is the second time that Mr. Solih has been expelled from Turkey during a visit there by you. The first time, in 1994, Mr. Solih did not return to Turkey for three years. Both times, Turkish authorities reportedly indicated that the expulsion was at the request of your government.

Moreover, the history of abuse which Uzbekistan dissidents like Mr. Solih have suffered lends credibility to allegations of Uzbekistan government complicity. The Erk party is banned; its newspaper is banned; and numerous party activists have been beaten, illegally jailed, arbitrarily detained, professionally blacklisted, and they and their relatives have been harassed through interrogations and surveillance by the police and security forces since the early 1990s. Many of Mr. Solih's relatives have suffered reprisals because of their relationship to him and, in some cases, because of their own work in the opposition movement. All five of his brothers =97 Rashid, Komil, Mohamad, Maqsud and Jumadnazar Bekjan =97 reportedly were fired from their jobs in 1993 and 1994 and have been blacklisted, effectively prevented from earning an income in Uzbekistan. In addition, local authorities reportedly illegally expropriated the private homes of Mohamad, Maqsud and Jumadnazar Bekjan. Rashid Bekjan was imprisoned in 1994 on apparently falsified charges, and was considered by Human Rights Watch as a prisoner of conscience. (He was released under presidential amnesty in 1996 along with four other prisoners of conscience as a result of international outcry.)

Turkish authorities acted illegally in coercing Mr. Solih and his wife to leave the country. No court order was obtained to effect his expulsion; indeed, he has not been accused of any misconduct or illegal activity. Human Rights Watch is expressing its profound distress to the Turkish government directly. We also ask you to respond to the allegations that the Uzbekistan government initiated the expulsion. In light of your government's history of abuse of Mr. Solih and other dissidents, silence will be interpreted as confirmation of the allegations.

We respectfully remind you of Uzbekistan's obligations under both domesti= c and international law to protect its citizens' right to free expression, including peaceful political activism. Consequently, we call on you to censure publicly the Turkish authorities for their expulsion of Mr. Solih. We also urge you to condemn and to cease the harassment of Mr. Solih's relatives within Uzbekistan and to request an immediate investigation into the illegal dismissals from work of Mr. Solih's five brothers, and the arbitrary and punitive seizure of property of Mohamad, Maqsud, and Jumadnazar Bekjan.

Thank you for your attention to these serious allegations. We look forward to your response.

Respectfully, /s/
Holly Cartner
Executive Director

Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 05:53:09 -0500
From: Union of Councils <ucsj@UCSJ.COM>


I am forwarding this message on behalf of Abdumannob Po'lat, whose subscription to CENASIA is pending.

Best wishes to all,

From: Union of Councils <ucsj@ucsj.com>
Subject: Is Solih real opponent to Karimov? On Solih's possible deportation from Turkey and on Kevin Klose's message

Dear Cenasia list members:
[>. . .]

1. Obviously, today there is no opponent to Karimov who might be significant threat to his rule. I believe, Shukrullo Miirsaidov, Abdurahim Po'lat, and Muhammad Solih, even together can not be considered as serious threat to Karimov. This view is correct for the near future, but nobody knows what will be in 5-10 years. Abdurahim Po'lat is much more active now than Muhammad Solih. He publishes/edits journal Harakat (Movement) and plays key role in the publications of Mustaqil Haftalik (Independent Weekly) and Birlik newspapers. All three papers are printed in Turkey in O'zbek. Solih is busy with the publications of memoirs and poetic/publicity books (his own and his supporters), what is also important contribution to the attempts to bring to O'zbekiston views and information alternative to the government's ones. Although publications led by Abdurahim and Solih have many common points (including both are too critical and intolerant to others, especially each to other), there is one difference what I consider is important. Books published by Solih and his supporters have too much "propagandistic" self-praising of Solih and/or Erk. These publications, including Safar Begjon's recent book (full with the hate to everybody whom he and/or Solih do not like, and extremely superficial and one-sided, sometimes stupid description of many political events), are too one-sided, often very superficial and naive. I did not see any serious attempt made by Solih and his tiny group of supporters (only a few people) to analyse the situation and own (possible) falls/mistakes, etc I respect freedom of expression, publications and views. But I do not support such publications and activity.

Papers sponsored by Abdurahim are much less "propaganda" (although they also have many deficiencies - to save your time I would avoid their discussion here).

I traveled twice to my homeland for last two years and spend there more than three months. I spoke to hundreds of people with different views and observed at least equal support to Abdurahim and Solih (my real feeling/impression was that there is much more [strong] support/sympathy for Abdurahim than to Solih, but because I am Abdurahim's brother and Birlik member, I am not Erk member or Solih's supporter, I am trying to be more careful in my conclusions).

More important, most of pro-democratically oriented activists - members of Birlik, Erk (by the way, many Erk members are also members of Birlik), and "independent" - were strongly demanding Abdurahim and Solih to stop fighting each with other.

All attempts to claim that one of them (Abdurahim or Solih) is the main leader of the O'zbek democratic movement are not serious. Additionally, these attempts/claims encourage the fighting between them.

2. On Solih's deportations from Turkey. In 1994, there were numerous reports that Turkish government forced him to leave the country. Still most of interested people believe that these reports were accurate. But when Solih was in Washington, DC in 1995, Jan-Febr, he publicly stated that he left Turkey himself (by his own will) "to stop negative influence of his living there to O'zbekiston-Turkey relations and he was not requested to do so by Turkish officials." I was attending at least one meeting (at the Kennan Institute) where Solih made such a statement. I do not know, where a truth is.

On Nov. 18, Solih denied request of the Voice of America's O'zbek service to give interview/comment/information on his recent deportation to Bulgaria. So, it looks strange suggested to CENASIA list participants advertizing on opportunities to interview Solih. Sure, Solih has right to give or deny giving interviews to different media, but it looks strange.

I will not be surprised if there were no forcible deportation or request to Solih leave Turkey. It seems to me, that often Solih is too concerned with the publicity/advertising. He likely wants to remind that he (politically) exists and claims to be the real opponent to Karimov and the main O'zbek oppositioner.

3. At the same time, there were criminal charges developed against Solih and few other Erk members living in Turkey. In 1994, 21 young O'zbek men had "bodyguard" training in Turkey. It is strange, that these "students" left O'zbekiston and arrived to Turkey with illegally obtained travel documents/passports. O'zbek government used that more than strange and suspicious "training" and "found" it to be a "terrorist training", and also tried to use this case to discredit democratic opposition. Karimov still claims that about ten of these young men had been disappeared/missed in Chechnya/Checheniston. I know, that the government of O'zbekiston is not a credible source of information in such cases, but I also have serious concerns.

If somebody is interested on this complex/complicated case, it is very briefly described in my article/report "Pursuing Dissidents in Exile: Activities of Central Asian Security Forces" published by Central Asia Monitor, #2 (pp. 31-36), #3 (pp. 31-36), 1995, where I briefly described (in #2, pp. 33-35) abduction in June of 1994 of Murod Jo'raev and Erkin Ashurov from Almaty by O'zbek security and related case of a "terrorists training". You can also see my recent article "Uzbekistan: What Changes?" in "Uncaptive Minds", the journal of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, Winter-Spring 1996-97, vol. 9. ##1-2, pp. 159-168 (see section "The Case of "Terrorist Training" on pp. 165-167).

By the way, there were and are much more reports and protests regarding to Solih (in Europe), than regarding possible political prisoners Murod Jo'raev and Erkin Ashurov, who are in jail since June 1994. Moreover, even official charges do not contain any evidence of Ashurov's involvement to alleged "terrorist training" activities.

These charges are likely the main reason of why, since 1994, Karimov is more intolerant to Solih's presence/habitancy and activities in Turkey than Abdurahim's. Because there are no signs/reports about valid criminal charges against Abdurahim.

4. However, O'zbek government is intolerant to both Birlik and Erk activities and publications made in Turkey, but it seems on slightly less extent/degree than 3 years ago. There were several reports about searches and confiscations of both (Birlik and Erk) publications. By the way, these publications are often fighting each to other - what is in interests of anti-democratic forces!.

Recent example of the government's intolerance is the search at Toshkent airport (late August) of all baggage of Tolib Yoqubov and Sayora Hudoyberganova and confiscation of all Birlik related literature.

5. Let us work trying to stop (or at least soften/decrease) fighting between Abdurahim and Solih.

6. Because I am Abdurahim's brother (by the way, I do not share some his views and actions and I am sure that I am independent political analyst and human rights/democratic activists) I do everything and anything possible to be objective when I try to analyse Solih and his activities. I believe, I was and am able to achieve such objectivity. Please, listen facts and arguments and avoid speculations on my brotherhood relations with Abdurahim. These relations have no influence to my position.

7. I consider Kevin Klose's remarks on Solih to be accurate and correct in general).

However, I do not agree with some his points/remarks. I am not sure that he and "representatives of several human rights groups in O'zbekiston" are right when they believe that "Toshkent is a place to go for Solih" and "that any opposition figure would be safe there." Currently in O'zbekiston there are about 25-30 possible political prisoners, mainly representatives of the Islamic community. But among these prisoners there are also about ten jailed secular political activists. Almost no opportunity for democratic and opposition groups to operate. No freedom of speech, media, political and public associations, peaceful demonstrations and meetings.

Opposition activists might return to homeland, but most likely they will not allowed to do any serious job for democracy and their lives will be under serious threat, if government considered them as serious threat to the current regime. Example of Shukrullo Mirsaidov proves many of these concerns. Government does not want balanced and civilized opposition. But couple known activists are allowed to cry, if they are unbalanced and intolerant to other positions and views, and their behavior is too "not serious." It is possible probably because in addition to important job (monitoring and reporting human rights violations), they discredit opposition and democratic movement. Government says, "look, who are these so called human rights/democratic activists/leaders."

Fighting between Abdurahim and Solih is also in interests of the Government.

Finally, if "any opposition figure would be safe in O'zbekiston", my home country made significant step toward tolerance, openness and pluralism, what many experts and monitors, including myself and numerous real specialists missed. Among such experts I do not mean people, governments and institutions, who makes their decisions and conclusions basing on economic geostrategic and political interests. I understand (and even share) many pragmatic policies toward O'zbekiston made by developed democracies, but I protest when these steps are WRONGLY "justified" by inaccurate, nonexisting or overestimated "improvements" in my country's human rights practice.

8. I believe, requests to Turkish government should be aimed to urge it to grant refugee/asylum status (and protect rights) to all political emigrants from O'zbekiston, who (by credible reports) did not involved in criminal activities - I mean criminal activities by the international standards, but not accusations developed by the authorities in O'zbekiston.

Because in my homeland today, the government can charge anybody with any "crime."

9. It is not in authority of President Karimov the deportation of Solih from Turkey. So, letters to Karimov (written by the Human Rights Watch and other groups and individuals) should request him to drop the official charges related to alleged "terrorist training in Turkey in 1994", or amnesty/pardon Murod Jo'raev, Erkin Ashurov and others jailed or charged on this case. Such humanitarian decision, in addition to the release/freeing of possible political prisoners suffering now in jails and forcible labor camps (GULAG), would safe face of the O'zbek government and grant strong protection to Solih, Jahongir Mamatov and other Erk members, living in Turkey.

8. Since September of 1989, struggle between Abdurahim and Solih was strongly encouraged by some their supporters in O'zbekiston and the government. But after 1990, several people in Turkey, Europe and even in the US, had joined to such "important activity" (encouraging and supporting fighting between them).

10. My call for cooperation between O'zbek pro-democratic leaders does not mean a call for "tabu" to criticizing them, including Abdurahim and myself . But I would prefer to listen a balanced, serious remarks/criticism based on careful analysis and credible reports. I do not want speculations based on rumors and inaccurate reports, intolerance and hate/hatred - what we unfortunately can observe sometimes in O'zbek pro-democratic and human rights community.

I apologize for long letter. Sorry, I do not have time to make it shorter. Because I did not post messages for 2 or 3 years to our discussion list, I hope you will forgive me.

Abdumannob Po'lat Director, Central Asian Human Rights Information Network
Chair, Human Rights Society of O'zbekiston
1819 H Street NW, Suite #230, Washington DC, 20006
Tel. (212) 775-97-70, ext. 17. Fax (202) 775097-76
E-mail <polat@ucsj.com>, <ucsj@ucsj.com>
If and when I am allowed to travel to Toshkent:
Tel/Fax: (7-3712) 46-54-47, E-mail: <abdu@oc.silk.org>