Usbekistan: Mutabar Tadjibayeva

The struggle for peace begins with the struggle for spiritual peace and tranquility within people. This is only possible when observance of human rights and freedom for everyone is provided.

— Mutabar Tadjibayeva

Mutabar Tadjibayeva (born 1962) is the head of the legal defense organization and editor of Ut Yuraklar (Fiery Heart) in Ferghana Valley. She founded the organization in 2000 in order to represent and fight for the rights of rural citizens, supporting them in their struggle for justice and organizing nonviolent protests and resistance against illegal State activity. Mutabar considers her primary mission in life to raise awareness of human rights among her fellow citizens.

Officially, Mutabar Tadjibayeva’s organization has defended the rights of up to 49,000 people; unofficially, the number is far bigger. The purpose of the organization is twofold: defending human rights and raising awareness of rights among citizens. In December 2002, an attempt was made to arrest Mutabar because of a letter she had written to the official powers about her intention to organize a demonstration to highlight human rights abuses. The civil protest was to coincide with the Day of the Constitution of the Republic, on 8 December, and was to be held just outside of the Uzbek Parliament. On 4 December, she received a letter from the prosecutor's office in Ferghana, stating that her organization was unregistered and that she could be prosecuted for her activities. A militia squad was dispatched to her home to take her into custody. Avoiding arrest, Mutabar went into hiding in Durmon village. The militia, aware that she had sought sanctuary in Durmon, surrounded the village and carried out house-to-house searches in order to try and find her. The villagers were intimidated and threatened to be arrested, should a "foreign agent," as Mutabar was titled, be found in any of their homes. The Service for National Safety (SNS) carried out the search. Although Mutabar’s work is dogged by this type of state intimidation, she still believes that people are capable of influencing their governments and even capable of preventing wars. “People with poor legal awareness cannot resist the initiatives of their governments to begin wars, that is why they suffer. Under conditions of war, there is no place for human rights. People deprived of legal knowledge turn into puppets in the hands of their own governments and therefore encourage abuse of the rights of others, even against their fellow citizens.”

Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (Hrsu) Organization for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms of Uzbek Journalists Committee for Freedom of Speech and Expression