The former Soviet state of Uzbekistan has become an important ally for both the US and NATO; its border with Afghanistan providing an invaluable supply route for the West's war on the Taliban.
But its government, led by Islam Karimov, the country's president, has a dreadful human rights record. It is a country where political and religious expression is heavily restricted, and where security services allegedly use torture and murder indiscriminately.

Thousands of Uzbeks have fled abroad - a few to Europe or the US, the majority to neighbouring countries in Central Asia. Mostly practising Muslims, they seek sanctuary from the violence and a chance to live in peace.
Instead, as Simon Ostrovsky reports, many of them face arrest and deportation back to a country where brutal repression is an everyday occurrence.

Source: Al Jazeera