Urunboy Usmonov rejoins his family
I had already written an entry for this week's blog, when we received the wonderful news, that Urunboy Usmonov has been conditionally released and has rejoined his family.
I have just spoken to him and he expressed his gratitude to everyone, who supported him and who believed in his integrity as a journalist.
I'm delighted that Urunboy is back with his family, from now on Urunboy will undergo medical check ups and we'll deal with the rest of the judicial process.
When I wrote the following words, Urunboy was still in prison and I have decided to go ahead and publish them here to mark the difficult month that his family, friends and colleagues have had to live through.
The past month has witnessed statements of support for Urunboy Usmonov from individuals, governments, respected international organisations and media outlets.
Travel writer Colin Thubron who has written extensively about Tajikistan and Central Asia said:
"My message would be simply one of understanding from a fellow writer.
I know what it is like as a writer to be accused of things of which you are innocent.
Simply because you have aimed to understand and to know, people imagine that understanding must means collusion.
But of course it doesn't.
We all know that it is just part of the writer's or journalist's job.
And I can only say, keep your head up and don't despair.
I think anybody who reads what you have written or hears what you have spoken knows that your are not giving inflammatory material.
You have always been a man of great compassion and sophistication in your reporting and nobody who knows your reporting could doubt that."
Josh Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning US journalist, wrote:
"My message to him is, I hope he gets it: We are trying to get him out. He shouldn't feel completely abandoned"
Emin Milli, an Azeri blogger, recently released himself from jail after an international campaign, said:
"It is sad, but it also shows how powerful and important people like Urunboy are.
And I, in a way, it is a badge of honour, because if he didn't do something that matters, he probably wouldn't be punished."
As for his family, they have experienced so much distress over the last month.
"Your Grandad's fate was easier than mine. He was shot dead, but I lived with this pain all my life."
I don't want to compare my Grandad's case to Urunboy's, but the pain which a family goes through is always traumatic.
I spent several days with Urunboy's son Oybek, who is a young, bright man. He is married and has a lovely one-year-old daughter. He should be enjoying life at his age.
He had been left as the only man in the family: one who must look after the entire household and also shuttle between the lawyer, security services and prison, asking for the latest updates, bringing medicine or changes of the clothes, begging for an appointment.
He is 25 years old, but I have noticed he has grey hair.
Urunboy's wife Malohat said about her pain:
"After they arrested my husband all our lives are in tatters.
All of us are devastated and shocked. We can't imagine how they could associate him with the 'Hizbut-Tahrir' party.
Our neighbours are aware of his innocence, but they are keeping silent.
At times like this you can see the real value of one's relationships.
When people in different corners of the world are protesting and protecting Urunboy Usmonov, it's very sad and painful that your neighbours keep silent..."
The family wrote an open letter to the Tajik President Emomali Rahmon asking him to look into the case and reinstate justice.
The local authorities of Hodjent, recognising the service of Urunboy as a writer, poet, journalist to the community, were planning to celebrate his 60th anniversary later this year in November.
Malohat, who has been living through the pain for the last month, believes that they will celebrate the jubilee if not with the wider community, among their reunited family at least
PS Now that the family is reunited, I think that all of us can join them in that celebration.