NAMANGAN, Uzbekistan - Abdurahman Aliyev had just walked into his home when he heard a loud knock on the door. A policeman shoved a piece of paper and pen at him and ordered him to confess to belonging to a banned Muslim group, vow to break ties with it and pledge never to get involved in politics.
"So I asked, 'Why? Is there any reason why I should write this?' He said only that his boss had told him to have me write this letter," said the 59-year-old Aliyev, director of a farmers' cooperative that replaced the Soviet-era collective farm system.
"I didn't sign the paper," he said. "It would be like putting a noose around my neck."
Reports of similar police warnings and threats have mushroomed throughout the Uzbek sections of the Fergana Valley in recent weeks, usually delivered to political activists, human rights workers, farmers, journalists and families or friends of some 6,000 prisoners in jail on charges of belonging to outlawed religious organizations.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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