George V. Reilly

Free Ruslan Sharipov

Free Ruslan Sharipov

(Originally posted to Politics at EraBlog on Tue, 02 Dec 2003 08:32:12 GMT)

I sign a lot of petitions. Here’s one that I wrote a custom letter for.

First, the background.

From: "John - THE LIST" <john@­gayad­vo­ca­> Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 6:24 PM Subject: THE LIST: Action Alert - Free Ruslan Sharipov THE LIST - Special Alert for Gay Torture Victim

Washington, DC December 1, 2003

Ruslan Sharipov, a journalist in Uzbekistan, is being imprisoned and tortured because he’s gay. His government captors have threatened to rape him with a bottle and inject him with AIDS. But there is talk that the government may soon amnesty a few political prisoners. Let’s make sure he is one of them by emailing the 3 key US officials below, demanding they tell the Uzbek government to free Ruslan Sharipov.

I’ve managed to get the direct email addresses for these rather high-ranking US officials. Let’s take advantage of our luck. And if you’re not American, no matter - it’s still good for them to hear that people around the world are watching America’s actions on this important case:

You can read more about Ruslan’s case at the Human Rights Watch Web site. BACKGROUND

Earlier this year, openly-gay journalist Ruslan Sharipov was given a five-year prison term by the Uzbek government simply because he is an openly-gay advocate for human rights in his Stalinist homeland. In the six months he’s already been in prison, the 25-year-old Ruslan has been physically and mentally tortured, and forced to write his own suicide note. WHY YOUR EMAILS MATTER

This month, December 2003, the Uzbek government, under intense in­ter­na­tion­al pressure from groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty In­ter­na­tion­al, is reportedly con­sid­er­ing freeing some of its 7,000 to 10,000 political prisoners. We need to make sure that Ruslan is among those freed.

I have it on good authority that senior US officials do not believe the American people care about Ruslan’s im­pris­on­ment and torture. They think we don’t care that the Bush Ad­min­is­tra­tion is giving Uzbekistan $500 million a year in aid, much of it going towards training the very state security apparatus that tortures gays and lesbians and other political prisoners. And they think we don’t care that earlier this year two political prisoners were boiled alive, and that our tax money helps all of this happen. IT’S TIME TO TELL THE US GOVERNMENT WE DO CARE.

President Bush tells us he’s fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq, then supports a brutal dictator next door. President Bush needs to start practicing what he preaches. He should tell the government of Uzbekistan to free gay journalist Ruslan Sharipov. Again, those email addresses are: - gross­man­M2@s­ - Ap­ple­ton­DE@s­ - cran­er­lx@s­

Thanks so much, and please share this email alert with all of your friends and colleagues. I truly believe that if we all get involved now, this is one we can win in no time. (I’m doing this update as a text-only version so you can easily forward it by email to your friends and colleagues.)

JOHN ARAVOSIS Editor, THE LIST and Washington, DC

PS For more in­for­ma­tion on Ruslan’s case, visit Human Rights Watch Web site.

Here’s the letter that I sent.

From: George V. Reilly To: gross­man­M2@s­ ; Ap­ple­ton­DE@s­ ; cran­er­lx@s­ Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 12:03 AM Subject: Free Ruslan Sharipov

The Bush Ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken to arguing that the US invaded Iraq to save the Iraqi people from the brutality and torture of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and to bring democracy. It’s un­ques­tion­ably good that the torturers of Iraq are gone.

But the Ad­min­is­tra­tion has also given $500 million to Uzbekistan, where political prisoners have been boiled alive. Have we learned nothing from the past? Saddam was once our puppet, as were many other dictators in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. The CIA helped overthrow Mossadegh’s de­mo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elected government in Iran in 1953, to our lasting cost. Supporting brutal dictators may help our strategic position in the short term, but it makes us look like hypocrites. Can we not do better than this?

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly concerned about the plight of Ruslan Sharipov, the gay journalist and human rights advocate who has been imprisoned in Uzbekistan on trumped-up charges. I ask you to call upon the Uzbek government to free Sharipov and other political prisoners.

/George V. Reilly Seattle, WA

May it do some good.

Update: Ruslan was released and granted asylum in the U.S..

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