The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) has launched a campaign in support of Uzbek photographer Umida Ahmedova, who has been charged by the government with defamation, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.
The Paris-based art organization has published an appeal to Uzbek authorities to acquit Ahmedova. The appeal is signed by nearly 1,000 artists, art critics, journalists, and rights activists from around the world.
The AICA appeal calls on the Uzbek government to dismiss the charges against Ahmedova on the grounds that art is not journalism and cannot be viewed as an agent of defamation.
The AICA said it is attempting to draw the attention of the international community and rights organizations to Ahmedova's case. It says that if Ahmedova's case is not stopped, any photo taken on the Uzbek streets could become a pretext for
Ahmedova was arrested on December 16 and charged with defamation and damaging Uzbekistan's image with a series of photos and videos she took in remote villages that she used for the documentaries The Burden Of Virginity and Customs Of
Men And Women. The films focus on poverty and gender inequality in Uzbekistan.
A prominent photographer and film-maker in Uzbekistan has been found guilty of slandering the nation through her work.
Umida Akhmedova had been facing up to three years in prison for a series of photos and a film portraying people in Uzbekistan as backward and poor.
But after announcing the guilty verdict, the judge said the photographer would automatically be pardoned under an amnesty.
Ms Akhmedova said she would still appeal against the conviction.
Last month the Uzbek government decided to prosecute the photographer for an album of work, published in 2007, depicting rural life scenes in Uzbekistan, and for a documentary film. The film, The Burden of Virginity , focused on the
experiences of young women immediately before and after marriage.
But a panel of experts appointed by the government ruled that her work would damage Uzbekistan's spiritual values. The panel concluded in its report that the photo album does not conform to aesthetic demands , a throwback to Soviet jargon,
and that it would damage the country's spiritual values .