Uzbek LGBT+ activist may need brain surgery after savage attack by masked thugs with a baseball bat

Miraziz Bazarov

Uzbek LGBT+ activist Miraziz Bazarov has been hospitalised with serious injuries after a savage beating by three masked men with a baseball bat.

Bazarov, 29, was rushed to Tashkent Traumatology Hospital on Sunday (28 March) with multiple injures to his internal organs and legs, including an open fracture of the left femur, and a severe concussion.

The following day doctors told RFE/RL that his condition is so serious he has now been moved to another hospital where he may need to undergo brain surgery.

The attack was witnessed by one of Bazarov’s neighbours, who said the beating only lasted about three minutes.

“As [Miraziz Bazarov] was entering the entrance of the house where he lived, a car came to a stop and three masked men fell out of it,” he told reporters. “One of them had a baseball bat in his hand. They got out of the car and started beating [him].”

The activist runs a blog on Telegram called Kanal Bazarova, where he advocates for the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships and has repeatedly called for the removal of the “hooliganism” from the Uzbek Criminal Code.

He told Russian news on Sunday that he had been “aggressively attacked by bloggers known to be pro-government in the blogosphere”. He had reportedly received several threats in the past two weeks and alerted police at least ten times, but no action was taken.

“I am the target of [verbal] attacks because I am supposedly propagandising LGBT+, although all I am doing is speaking out in favour of scrapping [criminal sanctions] for sodomy. I believe that this is people’s personal business,” he said in a video posted to social media hours before he was assaulted.

Bazarov is a vocal critic of president Mirziyoyev and has written extensively about the government’s “growing corruption”, describing supposed economic reforms as a “huge loss” and calling on people to boycott the election.

Last summer he was questioned by State Security Service investigators after he urged the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank not to provide loans to Uzbekistan without strict control over how the funds are used.

Police said on Monday that they would be investigating the incident but blamed Miraziz Bazarov for provoking the beating, according to Eurasianet.

The director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch forcefully condemned the attack, calling it “totally awful“.

“Uzbekistan has committed at UN Human Rights Council this month – in theory – to uphold international human rights standards. It should do so! End attacks on LGBT+ people,” he tweeted.