Interview with Lira Ismailova, Human Rights defender from Kyrgyzstan

September 21, 2015

ISHR-logo-colour-high on 21 September 2015 carries an interview with Lira Ismailova, a human rights defender from Kyrgyzstan.

She starts by crediting her mother, Tolekan Ismailova – a celebrated Kyrgyz human rights defender, with influencing her. Lira, previously a lawyer advocating for a wide range of human rights related issues, currently works at Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan – which focuses on defending freedom of association and protecting human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan.

‘My first position in the field of human rights was with an NGO working for the protection of the rights of internal migrants. I then advocated for the repeal of the death penalty in Kyrgyzstan. I participated in a working group to prepare a draft law for reforming our criminal legislation, and on several reforms for the penitentiary system which included monitoring prisons in Kyrgyzstan.’ Lira’s work on the death penalty was ultimately successful in 2007 when President Bakiyev abolished the death penalty. However, this achievement did not herald a significant practical improvement in the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan. Instead, since then, it is ‘much more difficult’ for human rights defenders on the ground.

Lira recalls numerous occasions when she and her family had to temporarily leave Kyrgyzstan for safety reasons. Lira highlighted the restrictions imposed on Bir Duino’s operations and recalled that its Kyrgyzstan office has been burgled twice in connection with attacks on ‘nationalists’. Bir Duino’s activities were also ‘supervised’ by authorities during the trial of well-known human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov in 2013 who is currently serving a life sentence in a Kyrgyz prison [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/fury-about-us-award-for-askarov-in-kyrgyzstan-backlash-or-impact/].

Lira considers that the Kyrgyz government’s moves to create new restrictive legislation, along with the State Committee for National Security putting direct pressure on lawyers and human rights defenders, has added to the shrinking space for civil society. See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/draft-laws-on-civil-society-restrictions-also-pending-in-kyrgyzstan-and-cambodia/

‘We need help from international institutions to raise awareness of the Government’s attempts to implement these restrictive laws and help us to stop these laws from passing in Parliament’ 

 

…..According to Lira, it is critical that, among other international mechanisms, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders visit Kyrgyzstan.  Some of the main aims of such visit would be to observe the effect of Russian-derived legislation on civil society space and support human rights defenders, such as Askarov a defender who needs urgent humanitarian aid.

Lira adamantly talks about what needs to be done in Kyrgyzstan – the Government needs to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in accordance with the UN Declaration on human rights defenders; ensure that national legislation complies with this Declaration, including by repealing legislative barriers to obtaining financial resources, independence, freedom of association, assembly and expression; and create a parliamentary committee on observance of the situation with the human rights defenders.

Source: Lira Ismailova: Human Rights defender from Kyrgyzstan | ISHR

One Response to “Interview with Lira Ismailova, Human Rights defender from Kyrgyzstan”


  1. […] On 26 September 2016 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT partnership) strongly condemned the verbal attacks and acts of harassment by the Kyrgyz authorities against Tolekan Ismailova and Aziza Abdirasulova in reprisal to their participation in the 2016 OSCE meeting, and called upon diplomatic missions and the OSCE to provide them with all necessary protection. On 20 September Ms. Tolekan Ismailova made a speech in Warsaw, focusing on the rights of Kyrgyz women migrants and their children. As she was delivering her speech, she found herself sitting by coincidence next to Kadyrzhan Batyrov (see above). Shortly afterwards a photo of her sitting next to this individual was published on the Internet, and sparked virulent reactions on the part of Kyrgyz MPs and law enforcement agents. Ms. Aziza Abdirasulova was also captured on the picture as she was entering the plenary hall, and was also subject to similar threats. Some Kyrgyz MPs called for the opening of a criminal case against Ms. Ismailova, after which the press office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed that ”operational work” had been opened to hold “Kyrgyz citizens” accountable. Through social networks, a number of Internet users also promised to “welcome” “the traitors” upon their return to the country. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/interview-with-lira-ismailova-human-rights-defender-from-ky…] […]


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