18 August 2011To: Ms Carolyn Lamm, White & Case, Chairman of the Board of theAmerican Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerceclamm@washdc.whitecase.comCopy to: Members of the Board of the American Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce
Dear Ms Lamm,We write this open letter to you on behalf of our client, Oxus Gold plc (
), andin your position as Chairman of the Board of the American Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (
) to raise our concerns regarding recent events in the country. Wehave made the text of this letter open to the public because our client’s past effortsto request action from the AUCC have been met with refusal.On 9 August 2011 an Uzbek military court in closed session convicted andsentenced to 12 years in prison our client’s former chief metallurgist, Mr SaidkulAshurov, on patently absurd charges of espionage under Article 160 of the Uzbek Criminal Code. The handling of his “trial” did not meet any minimum internationalstandards, the evidence was non-existent, his counsel was barred fromcommunicating information outside of the tribunal, and witnesses were compelled togive false testimony on threats of violence. The Government of Uzbekistan hasdeprived Mr Ashurov of proper treatment for a pre-existing medical condition andhis health is severely compromised. For your information, we enclose a briefingpaper providing details of the Uzbek Government’s cruel and inhuman treatment of Mr Ashurov.You may also be aware that the latest U.S. State Department Country Report onHuman Rights issued in April 2011 states that human rights problems in Uzbekistaninclude “denial of due process and fair trial.” The Report goes on to state that the judiciary “often took direction from the executive branch.” Prison conditions, theReport adds, “were in some circumstances life threatening.”Among the mission statements of the AUCC is the goal of advocating “vigorouslyfor the interests of U.S. business in Uzbekistan” and to place its “primary emphasison serving the needs and interests of its members.” As our client is a long-standingmember of the AUCC, we call upon the organization to exercise its statedcommitments by raising the issue of Mr Ashurov’s illegal imprisonment to theauthorities. Given the organization’s close relationships with the Embassy of theRepublic of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. as well as the Government of Uzbekistan, we request that the AUCC deliver a letter to these parties demandingthe immediate release of Mr Ashurov.