Uzbek Photojournalist Umida Akhmedova Found Guilty of Libel
Lauren Wolfe, deputy editor at the Committee to Protect Journalists, brought to my attention the story of Umida Akhmedova, a photojournalist convicted of libeling and insulting the Uzbek people because of a 2007 body of photographic work depicting the day-to-day lives of Uzbek men and women, and a 2008 documentary film titled The Burden of Virginity on the traditional ban on premarital sex.
Akhmedova faced eight years in prison for “denigration from mercenary or other foul motives” and “insult through a printed or otherwise copied text, or through the mass media.” She was found guilty on February 10 because, according to a “complex expert review” by the state media monitoring agency, her work “intentionally focuses on life’s hardships.” Though she was found guilty, she was amnestied immediately. However, her reputation is now tarnished by a criminal record.
Akhmedova was luckier than many journalists in Uzbekistan—seven are currently in jail for their work, including the president’s own nephew, Dzhamshid Karimov, a freelance journalist who was forced into a psychiatric facility in Samarkand in September 2006. Authorities have disclosed neither a court order nor a medical diagnosis, according to CPJ. Karimov remains without access to a lawyer, family or friends.
Here are a few of Umida Akhmedova’s stunning images.
All images copyright Umida Akhmedova