I saw this on The Online Photographer today:
Uzbek photographer Umida Akhmedova is facing either prison time or forced labor for a photo essay consisting of little more than pics of ordinary people.
Some of the pics can be accessed here.
The charges? “Defamation and insulting Uzbek traditions,” which seems especially ridiculous given that “Uzbek traditions” are the subject of the photos.
One can only speculate on the reason. The photos include lots of pics of wrinkly-faced elderly people and at least one of unhappy looking children. I suppose what it probably boils down to is that the pics were felt to be insufficiently flattering to the glory of the Uzbek homeland, or something like that. Perhaps if Akhmedova had done a photo essay on posh gambling casinos, fancy resorts, and new infrastructure projects, she would have fared better with the authorities? Who knows.
Whatever the motivation, it’s a cowardly and despicable action.
Is there anything that can be done? It seems doubtful. One commenter on TOP noted that the Uzbek regime has been known to machine-gun thousands of protesters, and has a secret police known for literally boiling people alive. In light of that, I am guessing a few politely worded letters of concern would have little effect. Attempts to shame foreign investors into pulling out also seem unlikely to succeed, considering that this incident is far less serious than others that have already happened, meaning if a particular company is still doing business in Uzbekistan, they are hardly going to care about one specific photographer getting stuck on a chain gang.