Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Kyrgyzstan
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Author||Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders|
|Publication Date||19 June 2008|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2007 - Kyrgyzstan, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4864668b41.html [accessed 22 August 2014]|
The political crises that have taken place in Kyrgyzstan since the "Tulip Revolution" of May 2005 continued in 2007. The confrontation between President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Parliament led in particular to a series of constitutional reforms.1 After innumerable cabinet reshuffles, a new "national union" Government was formed in April 2007, but several opposition leaders refused to join it. During the month of April, large demonstrations broke out in Bishkek, challenging the President's actions and calling for democratic reforms. They were put down by the police, and a number of defenders and political opponents were arrested.
On June 28, 2007 the President approved the changes to the Criminal Code, and the abolition of the death penalty which had been promised in the aftermath of the "Tulip Revolution" came into force. The Kyrgyz human rights defenders welcomed the step forward, but drew the attention of the Government to the bad conditions of detention and the endemic practice of torture in prisons.
On October 21, 2007, new versions of the Constitution and the Electoral Code were adopted by a referendum, which results were contested by the international observers.2 The changes brought to the Electoral Code two months before the parliamentary elections were clearly aimed at weakening the opposition and limiting its representation in the future Parliament. At the same time, a new presidential party, Ak Jol, appeared on the scene, and State funds allocated to the organisation of the elections were to a large extent used to promote the new party.
In addition, during the electoral campaign, several members of opposition parties and a number of NGO representatives stated that they had been subjected to pressure and intimidation on the part of the authorities; they also denounced unequal access to the media.
On December 16, 2007, Ak Jol obtained 71 seats out of 90, the Communist Party supporting the President eight seats, and the Social Democratic Party, representing the moderate opposition, 11 seats. The opposition party Ata Meken, despite scoring 8.29% of the vote, is not represented, as it obtained less that 0.5% in the Och agglomeration. The election results were contested by the opposition, which organised protest demonstrations in the capital, during which several members of the opposition, human rights defenders and journalists were arrested.
Difficulty in denouncing acts of torture, ill-treatments and corruption
As in 2006, denouncing torture and corruption in Kyrgyzstan remained a dangerous activity in 2007, with the possibility of acts of reprisal. Following such denunciations, human rights defenders have been prosecuted, with campaigns of harassment by the police during investigations, as was the case throughout the year for Ms. Valentina Gritsenko, President of the "Spravedlivost" ("Justice") NGO in Djalal-Abad, who had denounced the practice of torture by the police. Ms. Arzykan Momuntaeva, Director of the Talas regional office of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, and Ms. Lira Tantabaeva, a member of the Women's Movement and leader of the "Ayalzat" NGO, were arrested on May 26, 2007 and charged with "organisation of mass disturbances", "use of force against a State official" and "attack on the life of a State official", after they had denounced illegal practices on the part of local authorities and multinational corporations extracting gold in the area. The charges against them were subsequently dropped.
Defenders were also subjected to physical violence. For instance, on August 10, 2007, Ms. Aziza Abdirasulova, President of the Human Rights Centre "Kylym Shamy", who took part in the first trial of police officers charged with torture, was attacked and hit by a group of women on leaving the court, with the police observing the scene with indifference. Likewise, on April 6, 2007 unknown persons attacked with stones Mr. Ramazan Dyryldaev, president of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR), who had denounced corruption and accused
State leaders of being involved in such practices. In October 2007, unknown persons attempted to set fire to the KCHR office.
Harassment of defenders of political and social rights by the special services
In 2007, representatives of the special services carried out multiple inspections of and "visits" to NGOs which denounce violations of political and social rights. Kyrgyz defenders belonging to the "For Reforms" movement, who strive to promote the democratisation of society, have thus aroused the "special interest" of the special services; such was the case for instance of Ms. Asia Sasykbaeva, Director of the "Interbilim" Centre, and of Ms. Cholpon Djakupova, Director of the "Adilet" legal clinic, both of them being activists in the "For Reforms" movement.
Legislative obstacles to freedom of assembly and reprisals against demonstrators
The large number of protest demonstrations during 2007 led the authorities to multiply obstacles to peaceful gatherings. In November 2007, the Bishkek Town Council adopted restrictive regulations identifying the three places in the city where demonstrations would be allowed. Such a decision is contrary to the Constitution and to the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2004, stipulating that no agency could limit the right to peaceful assembly. The Coalition for Democracy and the civil society challenged the decision before the inter-district court in Bishkek.
Furthermore, human rights defenders charged with observing demonstrations have also become the victims of police violence and arbitrary arrests. In July 2007, just before the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the police dispersed a demonstration demanding the respect of the rights of the Uyghur minority organised by the "Democracy" NGO. The President of the organisation, Mr. Tursun Islam, and his son were arrested. Likewise, during the December 18, 2007 demonstration contesting the election results, 18 human rights defenders representing most of the Kyrgyz NGOs were arrested by the police and accused of disrupting "law and order by holding demonstrations". Two days later, during another demonstration, Mr. Maxime Kuleshov, a member of the human rights NGO "World – the Light of Culture", was arrested and beaten by the police.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
1 The Constitution adopted on December 9, 2006, which proclaimed the Republic to be presidential and parliamentary, was immediately replaced on December 30, 2006, by a new version reinforcing the President's authority.
2 The OSCE observation mission stated in particular that "the parliamentary elections in Kirghizstan fell short of many international standards". See Statement on the preliminary conclusions of the OSCE observation mission, December 17, 2007.