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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Uzbek activist 'declared insane'
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC Central Asia Correspondent

Yelena Urlayeva
Yelena Urlayeva has undergone similar treatment before
An Uzbek human rights activist is about to undergo forced psychiatric treatment ordered by the government, according to US group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Yelena Urlayeva has been declared insane, the group says.

HRW said the treatment was due to begin on Friday morning, and has expressed deep concern for her wellbeing.

Miss Urlayeva was arrested in August for allegedly distributing political pamphlets with a caricature of the Uzbek coat of arms.

She was sent for psychiatric evaluation but was declared sane.

At that point, HRW said in a statement, Miss Urlayeva should have been released.

Instead she was sent for further evaluation at a more severe hospital.

'Tied to bed'

This time she was declared insane and a court issued an order for her to undergo forcible treatment.

Neither she, her lawyer nor her family were informed of the court hearing or allowed to challenge the decision, the statement says.

Miss Urlayeva told representatives of HRW, who she met on Thursday, that she feared the treatment.

Four years ago she was arrested on her way to a protest meeting and sent to a psychiatric hospital for three months.

There she said she was tied to her bed and forcibly given injections of psychotropic drugs.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United States and countries of the European Union to demand Miss Urlayeva's immediate release.

Miss Urlayeva's treatment may well be connected to her recent work for an opposition group, the Free Farmers, who are calling for political and economic reform in Uzbekistan.

Members of the group say the government is looking for information which it can use to begin a legal case against the Free Farmers' leaders.


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