STOCKHOLM, 22 June 2022 – The Uzbek authorities should thoroughly and transparently investigate the recent harassment and detention of two journalists with independent television news program Sevimli TV at a football match, and ensure that any law enforcement officers obstructing or attacking the press are detained. The Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
According to a report by Zamon, which was later deleted and then reposted on Facebook by Uzbek journalist Jasurbek Abdurahmanov, and posted on Telegram by Olimjon O’sarov, head of the Creative Union of Journalists of Uzbekistan, a nominally independent trade group, in the evening. On June 11, police and National Guard officers arrested two journalists with the programme, and beat one of them after they tried to enter the Pakhtakor football stadium in the capital, Tashkent. Other news media also reported the incident, citing Zamon’s deleted report.
In a statement, the Uzbek Interior Ministry identified one of the journalists as T. Ibrukhimov, a camera operator, said he was shot in a crowd of unruly football fans outside the stadium, but she did not say that the police hit him. The other journalist was contacted by CPJ, but they declined to comment and have not been identified publicly.
Zamon stated that the officers beat Ebrokhimov, briefly detaining journalists, and later Ebrokimov received treatment in a local hospital. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said Ibrukimov had a broken jaw and was advised to undergo plastic surgery, reports said.
“Uzbek authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent harassment of two Zamon journalists on Sevimli TV and ensure that anyone — whether police or civilian — is held accountable,” said Gulnoza Saeed, CPJ Europe and CPJ member. beating the photographer known as T. Ibrokimov. Central Asia Program Coordinator in New York. “The authorities must ensure that no attempts are made to conceal police abuses, and that the media can freely cover this case and all other events of news interest.”
CPJ has sent emails, letters, and calls to Zamon and Sevimli TV for comment, but has not received any responses. Zamoun removed its initial report on the incident, but has since continued to cover the issue, publishing statements of support and concern by local media organizations.
According to Zamoun’s deleted report, the officers prevented journalists from entering the stadium, and when they began filming from outside, the officers grabbed their camera and press cards, threw press passes on the ground, and wrapped each journalist’s arm. The officers detained journalists, confiscated their equipment, and a group of six or seven police officers and a National Guard officer beat and beat Ebrokhimov, shocked him with an electric shock, and when he fell to the ground, kicked him in the stomach and kicked him in the stomach. on the head and hit him on the leg with a baton.
The police then transferred both journalists to the Chikonhor district police station, where an ambulance took Ibrokimov for medical care, Zamon said.
The reporter told his employer that he was able to recover a broken camera and tripod from the police the next morning, but not his microphone or their press cards.
In its statement, the Interior Ministry claimed that Ibrukimov was wounded “in the course of the fight” amid a crowd of fans trying to storm the stadium. In that statement, an investigation was underway into the events “to identify citizens who violated public order.”
The Union of Creative Journalists, the Media and Communication Agency, a government body that reports to the presidential administration, and the National Media Association of Uzbekistan, a federation of independent media, called for an investigation into the incident.
Emails sent by CPJ to the National Guard and the Ministry of Interior requesting comment were returned but not delivered. The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to the ministry and its spokesperson Shuhuh Gyusov on their official Facebook pages, but received no response.
CPJ is also investigating a report alleging that a local photographer and a foreign photojournalist, whose names have not been released, were hit by stones thrown by Uzbekistan fans during the soccer match, and that the photographer required medical attention.