TASHKENT - Friday, July 27, 2012 -
A human rights defender in Uzbekistan has died after being stabbed in the street in Tinchlik, 25 miles from the capital Tashkent.
Akromhoja Muhitdinov, 59, died on Wednesday, in the ambulance taking him to hospital. His wife says he was set upon by three individuals who assaulted and abused him. He was then stabbed several times.
Prosecutors in Yangiyul district have launched a criminal case and are questioning eyewitnesses.
Other members in Uzbekistan’s beleaguered human rights community believe this was no random attack, and that Muhitdinov was deliberately targeted for his work.
"We cannot rule out that this tireless campaigner for human rights and justice had become an irritant to the authorities and other corrupt individuals," said Yelena Urlaeva, leader of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, the group Muhitdinov worked with. "This provocation, and the murder of Akromhoja, were clearly deliberate."
Local and international rights groups have documented numerous cases where dissidents and human rights defenders have been attacked in the street by people acting as proxies for the security service.
Active in the human rights sector from 2006, Muhitdinov monitored the use of child labor on cotton plantations, which resulted in a number of physical attacks on him.
He also defended farmers' rights, and only days before his death he announced that a group of Yangiyul residents whose lands had been seized had won their case in court.
(This story was originally published by IWPR.net. It is republished here with permission)