Uzbekistan: Over 12,000 Muslims jailed for extremism
Jan 8, Tashkent: At least 12,800 people - including human rights defenders, independent journalists, and activists - have been jailed in Uzbekistan since 2002.
According to a rights group, thousands of Muslims in Uzbekistan have been incarcerated for alleged "religious extremism" as part of a government crackdown on peaceful Muslims who practice their faith outside government-approved mosques.
The Initiative Group of Independent Rights Defenders in an annual report released on Thursday said that at least 300 Muslims have been arrested and convicted in 2015 alone.
The report is based on thousands of documents, first-hand reports from the group's activists throughout Uzbekistan, and interviews with families and former inmates collected since 2002, the group's head Surat Ikramov said.
The figure could be a bit higher, but is in no way lower media reports said.
The former Soviet nation of 31 million is ruled by President Islam Karimov, a former communist official who is known for his repressive and dictatorial policies.
The 77-year-old leader, who has been at the helm since before Uzbekistan broke away from Soviet Union in 1991, considers Muslim groups and political parties a major threat to his iron-fisted rule.
Most of the jailed people are abused, tortured, and have their prison terms extended for the slightest violation of rules, the report said.
The Oslo Times