The founder of Centre-1 – Central Asia Media e.V. based in Germany – has said that Human Rights Watch has misinformed the public by describing investigative reports on fakes Human Rights Watch has been disseminating from Uzbekistan as smear campaign and linking them to an attack on its representative in Tashkent.
Central Asia Media e.V., an organisation founded in Germany in 2006 to support independent media and freedom of speech in Uzbekistan, has been prompted to make a statement on the incident that happened to Human Rights Watch researcher Steve Swerdlow in Tashkent on 13 June and on the statement the organisation issued on it.
“Central Asia Media e.V. deplores the incident that happened to Human Right Watch’s Director for Central Asia Steve Swerdlow in one of Tashkent’s hotels on 13 June.
We believe that the actions of blogger Sardor Kamilov of the sayyod.com website who tried in a rough and pushy manner to interview Swerdlow on the standards of his work in Uzbekistan contradict professional ethnics and norms of decent human interaction.
Even the realisation of moral righteousness towards a person who was exposed that they disseminated false information doesn’t provide grounds to journalists and bloggers for physical harassment and insults.
We call on Sardor Kamilov and his colleagues to offer apologies to Steve Swerdlow for their behaviour and work on improving their professionalism.
At the same time, Central Asia Media eV wants to express its protest against Human Rights Watch’s attempts to link the attack on Swerdlow in Tashkent to Centre-1’s investigative reports.
In its statement Human Rights Watch said that the attack on Swerdlow “appears to be part of a wider smear campaign against Human Rights Watch, other human rights activists, and journalists in Uzbekistan”.
And that “blogger Komilov verbally attacked Swerdlow with a series of unfounded accusations, many mirroring smears that have appeared online in recent weeks”.
Kamilov asked Swerdlow why he had falsified reports on Uzbekistan and told him that he had read investigative reports on “forensic expert” and a teacher of French.
In April Centre-1 published an investigative report that in 2016 Human Rights Watch and a number of its partner organisations falsely presented radiologist from Azerbaijan Nigyar Akhmedbekova as forensic expert while urging Uzbek authorities to investigation the death of entrepreneur Ilhom Ibodov in a detention centre of the National Security Service in Bukhara Region. The man died in September 2015 a month after he was arrested.
Earlier, in 2017, Centre-1 carried a high-profile exposé of Human Rights Watch’s close partner – Nadejda Atayeva, president of the France-based Human Rights in Central Asia association, that in 2010 and 2011 she produced a film and report on extrajudicial executions in Uzbekistan that had allegedly taken place in the country in months after the Andijan killings on 13 May 2005. This has turned out to be fiction from start to end.
Teacher of French Umidjon Abdunazarov from Kokand was presented as a forensic pathologist who had allegedly worked in the Andijan morgue between September 2005 and February 2006 and witnessed at least 1,500 victims of extrajudicial executions. Thanks to this false story he has obtained asylum in France.
With great disappointment does Central Asia Media eV note Human Rights Watch’s unwillingness to admit the truth and its attempt to belie Centre-1’s investigative reports carried out at the highest professional level.
We consider it as unacceptable that Human Rights Watch covering up fake reports by its researcher and partner is trying to undermine our journalists who are continuing to report the unflattering truth despite posts and titles in heavy conditions of political exile.
We urge Human Rights Watch to admit that it was wrong and to offer apologies to the journalistic team of Centre-1 for slandering it.
Central Asia Media eV.”