Uzbek human rights activists Malohat Eshonqulova and Elena Urlaeva © UGF 2015

Human Rights Activists Detained in Samarkand

The two Uzbek human rights activists Malohat Eshonqulova and Elena Urlaeva were detained by the police on October 15 in Samarkand. Shortly before, they were in Samarkand monitoring the forced mobilization of medical staff to the cotton harvest. The rights activists had filmed the column of busses taking medical staff from Samarkand to the cotton fields in the Urgut and Pastdargom districts. They also studied the case of 52-year-old Fahriddin Saidov who had died because of a scandal connected to the cotton harvest. For these reasons, the rights activists were detained and held in the Pastdargom District Police Directorate for more than 5 hours. They were body-searched in a humiliating manner. Under the effect of a medical pill, Urlaeva’s blood pressure went up and she lost conscience. During the search, Elena Urlaeva’s memory card was taken away from her. It contained pictures of medical staff members in Samarkand who were forcefully sent to pick cotton.