Kyrgyz authorities violating human rights and prosecuting activists

New York

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan continue to engage in serious human rights abuses, the latest violation occurring yesterday against eighteen peaceful demonstrators, Freedom House said today.

The demonstrators, including human rights activists, were arrested April 15 as they prepared to walk to a detention facility to protest the imprisonment of Felix Kulov, a leader of the opposition Ar-Namys party.

The arrests took place one day before the Summit of Prime-Ministers of Commonwealth of Independent States in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan.

"The Kyrgyz government continues to exercise authoritarian measures to silence critics," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "The brazen use of security services to violate fundamental human rights, such as the freedom of assembly and speech, is intolerable and must stop."

The arrests follow a systematic campaign to suppress freedom of expression and assembly, Freedom House said.

In May 2003, police detained and beat several women from Aksy Rayone who were publicly commemorating the deaths of their children, killed by militiamen during a 2002 protest against the arrest of Azimbek Beknazarov, an opposition deputy.

In October 2003, police arrested Aziza Abdirasulova, a human rights defender monitoring a peaceful demonstration. Ms. Abdirasulova was among those arrested yesterday. She was working with Freedom House to monitor the demonstration. A militiaman also struck her in the stomach. Over the last three years, Ms. Abdrasulova has been arrested nine times for her public activism.

By evening yesterday, all of those arrested had been released with either a warning or a fine.

According to Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2004 report, Kyrgyzstan is rated "Not Free."

Freedom House reports on Kyrgyzstan are available at:

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