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    » 12/10/2004, 00.00

    UZBEKISTAN – HUMAN RIGHTS

    Life is God's gift, says Orthodox Christian woman fighting the death penalty



    Tashkent (AsiaNews) - "The death penalty creates evil and violates the most important and inalienable human right: the right to life", this according to Tamara Chikunova, an Uzbek Orthodox Christian, founder of 'Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture', an association working for the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan.

    Her only son, 29-year-old Dimitrij, was executed by a firing squad on July 20, 2000. Since then she has been working on behalf of inmates and prisoners on death row who claim to have been wrongfully convicted. In four years, she has been able to save 19 'children of God' as she likes to call them.

    "I am a believer," Tamara says. "I am an Orthodox Christian and I help those who are on death row because life is God's most important gift to us. The state has no right to decide who lies and who dies; only God can."

    In her attempts to free her son Dimitrij, she received threats from the authorities. "My son gave his life to save mine. He confessed to the murder he was charged with to prevent them from killing me," she said. "For this reason, I help other young people to keep Dimitrij's memory alive".

    'Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture' has about a hundred members and volunteers from all over Uzbekistan. The association has a close relationship with international organisations like the Community of Sant'Egidio and Amnesty International.

    "We have been fighting for the past four years to get a moratorium on all executions," Tamara said. "On December 2 past, for the first time, the president of Uzbekistan expressed his support for the abolition of the death penalty and an end to executions". According to her, the president's statement is the result of international pressure that her association was able to solicit.

    The situation of death row inmates in Uzbekistan is terrible. "Relatives can't visit prisoners who live in cells waiting for the time of their execution. Since time and date are kept secret neither they nor their relatives know when it is going to happen", she said. "Once prisoners are executed their bodies are not returned to their families. And the location of their burial is kept secret—which is in and of itself a form of torture for both prisoners and families—so that relatives do not launch any inquiry about possible torture in prison."

    Tamara knows this all too well. On what became her last visit to her son she was talking to the guards when she hears shots fired . . . shots fired at her son. Still, her son's death has become a motive for her and others to act and hope. (PF)

     

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    See also

    23/08/2005 CHINA
    China to host UN torture envoy in 2005


    30/11/2004 SOUTH KOREA
    Religious leaders call for the abolition of the death penalty


    14/05/2007 UZBEKISTAN
    Prison for clerics but some in the West prefer to think about oil
    A Pentecostal pastor, Salavat Serikbayev, was sentenced to two years in prison because he was “teaching religion” in a house. In Uzbekistan, persecution continues against pastors and human rights activists. But some in the EU are considering toning down sanctions imposed after the Andijan massacre, not least because this may give them access to energy sources.

    06/04/2005 iran
    Iran, a Christian convert to face death penalty for apostasy


    21/02/2005 japan
    Support for death penalty at record high among Japanese

     





    Editor's choices

    CHINA - VATICAN
    Vatican silence over Shanghai’s Mgr Ma Daqin causing confusion and controversy

    Bernardo Cervellera

    For some, Mgr Ma’s blog post praising the Patriotic Association and acknowledging his mistakes is nothing but “dirt”. For others, he chose humiliation for the “sake of his diocese”. Many wonder why the Holy See has remained silent about the article’s content and the bishop’s persecution. Some suspect the Vatican views the episode in positive terms. Yet, the Ma Daqin affair raises a major question. Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics (which describes the Patriotic Association as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”) been abolished? If it has, who did it? A journey of compromises without truth is full of risks.


    CHINA – VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin: the text of his “confession”

    Mons. Taddeo Ma Daqin

    Four years after quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the bishop of Shanghai “admits” his faults on his blog, praising the organisation that controls the Church. We publish his article, almost in its entirety. Translation by AsiaNews.


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