Posts Tagged ‘Kyrgyzstan’

World Press Freedom Day 2020: a small selection of cases

May 3, 2020

On 30 April, 2020 the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara denounced the systematic violation of freedom of opinion and expression and the serious breaches of the International Humanitarian Law by the Moroccan Occupying Power of Western Sahara. In this context, the Geneva Group, with more than 200 human rights organizations, has renewed its call to the United Nations Security Council to set up a mechanism for monitoring and reporting human rights within the mandates of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara……The Geneva Support has called upon the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and the Arbitrary Detention, to pay special attention, each within the framework of its mandate, to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the Moroccan Occupation State against journalists and human rights activists in Occupied Western Sahara.

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Many newspapers reported on the Chinese Journalist, Chen Jieren, who was sentenced to 15 Years in prison for publishing negative information about the Party. Here oChinese journalist Chen Jieren was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday, for publishing negative information about China’s Communist Party. According to the South China Morning Post, a court in the central Hunan province released a statement which said that Chen was convicted for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble, extortion, illegal business operations and bribery.” Chen previously worked for People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the country’s Communist Party, but was detained in 2018 after posting false and negative information about the party online, the court’s statement said, according to SCMP. “The defendant published false information on blogs, WeChat public accounts, WeChat moments and other We-media to hype relevant cases under the guise of providing legal advice,” the court’s statement said.

The court added that Chen “attacked and vilified the Communist Party and government,” while also accusing him of being a part of an “evil force,” along with his ex-wife and three others that illegally accumulated 7.3 million yuan (over $1 million) from their illegal activities. Following Chen’s conviction, the Hong Kong-based non-profit organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD) released a statement urging Chinese authorities to release the journalist…..

While Chen’s conviction does not relate to the coronavirus, it comes as China has received criticism for its handling of the outbreak and its media censorship during the crisis. Prior to Chen’s conviction, in March, China had expelled journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. The moves came in response to President Donald Trump’s administration placing a limit on the number of Chinese journalists allowed to be employed by Chinese-run media outlets inside the U.S. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a non-profit organization defending journalism and freedom of information, China is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, with more than 109 of them behind bars in 2020.

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East Africa’s free press under threat, global survey finds” wrote Mwangi Maina  on 3 May 2020 in the Standard (digital):

Police officers push a journalist away from the scene of an explosion on Tom Mboya Street, Nairobi. [File]

Today is World Press Freedom Day, and this year’s focus is on ‘Journalism without fear or favour’. It is an important day for media professionals and citizens who believe in a free press. The article then looks at the east-african countries (based on the RSF report, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/21/2020-world-press-freedom-index-is-out/)

Kenya The country dropped three positions from 100 in 2019, but despite it experiencing a steady decline in media freedoms, Kenya, which is classified ‘orange’, has long been viewed the region’s best country to practice journalism. However, Kennedy Wandera, an international correspondent working for VOA News in Nairobi, notes that Kenya has a “slightly improved working environment for journalists but it is also worse compared to the rest of the EAC states”. According to RSF: “Kenya has seen a slow erosion of media freedom in recent years. The political situation and security concerns have been used since 2016 as grounds for restricting the freedom to inform. During election campaigns, the media are routinely subjected to physical attacks by the security forces and the public, as well as to threats and intimidation by politicians, confiscation of equipment, and censorship of journalistic content.” But according to Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Oduor, Kenya enjoys a fair press media compared to other countries in the region: “Factors threatening press freedom at the moment are largely economic factors that make the working environment difficult for journalists,” he said. “The immediate challenge that needs attention is media sustainability. Without a proper business model to confront and improve revenue streams, media houses and journalists become vulnerable.”

The situation in Tanzania continues to worsen as the nation drops six positions. RSF’s Arnaud Froger noted that no other nation in the world has experienced such a drastic decline in press freedom in the past four years. Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo said Tanzania has been a country of grave concern for CPJ over the last few years. CPJ has documented the use of media shutdowns, arrests, intimidation, judicial harassment and restrictive regulations to muzzle the free press. Mwananchi, Star Media, MultiChoice Tanzania and Azam Digital have been on the receiving end of the State’s big stick. The latter three outlets were fined 2,000 euros (Sh238,000) by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority and forced to issue a public apology over seven days for carrying a report by Kenya’s Citizen TV that described President John Magufuli as stubborn. The latest blow to press freedom was the arbitrary arrest and detention for seven months of journalist Erick Kabendera. Mr Froger said the charges brought against Mr Kabendera changed three times in the first weeks of prosecution. Aurelia Gabriel works for Radio Kwizera that broadcasts from Ngara in northwestern Tanzania. She said apart from media violations, the government has declined to offer information regarding Covid-19, and halted daily updates. According to Ms Gabriel, media outlets are also limiting their employees on what they report.

Uganda The nation has maintained the same position since 2019. Acts of intimidation and violence against journalists are an almost daily occurrence. Security services are the leading press freedom predators. Reporters are facing an increasing number of challenges covering coronavirus, with rights groups warning the pandemic could kill the truth. African Centre for Media Excellence Executive Director Peter Mwesige says journalists “have been reduced to praise singers, tweeting all manner of hallelujahs about Uganda’s exceptionalism, and very few are asking hard-hitting questions.” The RSF Africa desk has documented assaults against journalists for allegedly not respecting a Covid-19 lockdown. Uganda leads the RSF’s press freedom violations barometer in relation to the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, security forces raided three commercial radio stations to stop interviews that were ongoing with opposition leaders. The regulator also ordered media outlets to suspend 39 reporters and producers for covering a protest held by opposition figure Bobi Wine. “With the 2021 general elections nearing, the tougher the regime will be against the free press,” warns Froger.

South Sudan In a notable improvement for South Sudan, no journalist was killed last year for the second year in a row, but the press environment remains hostile. According to RSF, close surveillance and intimidation are part of the regime’s predatory methods. Security forces often go directly to printing presses to censor content. Foreign journalists have also been subjected to the regime’s harassment. Last year, two journalists, one working for AP and the other for France 24, were expelled. The United Nations and peace monitors have been asking the South Sudanese government to respect press freedoms and free speech.

Rwanda The situation remains unchanged as the nation stagnates on press freedom. Journalists know the red lines they are not allowed to cross as far as reporting is concerned. Four bloggers were arrested in early April for violating a government directive as they tried to cover coronavirus lockdown measures, according to Human Rights Watch. But Oswalidi Niyonzima, a journalist working with a community radio, says compared to previous years, the situation has improved. “Questioning the government no longer puts a journalist in danger or fear as long as they have their facts.” Media High Council Executive Secretary Peacemaker Mbungiramigo dismissed RSF’s findings as “not scientific but politically oriented”. He notes that media freedom and freedom of expression and independence “have deepened and the profession is now fully liberalised”.

Burundi The situation has been precarious for journalists since a May 2015 coup attempt, with most independent radio stations off air. VOA and BBC have been banned indefinitely. Journalists have paid dearly for trying to cover subjects that the government would prefer ignored, so independent information is very often produced clandestinely. The RSF has documented dozens of violations by security forces and pro-government militias encouraged by an official discourse that associates non-aligned media with enemies of the state. The RSF says four reporters working with Iwacu Media Group are kept arbitrarily behind bars, and that President Pierre Nkurunziza previously organised “moralisation sessions” in which journalists were taught how to “behave and report”. “Burundi used to have independent media houses but the 2015 political crisis changed everything. Knowing a story might cost you dearly, you have to analyse the risks involved before doing it,” said a journalist who requested anonymity. The few remaining independent media houses have been financially crippled through withdrawal of ads, leading to self-censorship and biased reporting.

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 Azimzhan Askarov pictured before and during his imprisonment. His health is failing in harsh conditions.

Azimzhan Askarov pictured before and during his imprisonment. His health is failing in harsh conditions. Supplied by Sherzod Askarov. Azimzhan Askarov is a reporter and human rights activist who was convicted, beaten, and given a life sentence in apparent retribution for his work.The 68-year-old has been jailed for 9 years and his health is deteriorating, prompting numerous human rights groups to fear for him in the coronavirus crisis.In June 2010 he set out to report on the death of a police officer, but was instead accused of inciting the crime, in a case that the UN has determined was completely unjust. Kyrgyzstan broke ties with the US after the State Department gave him a prestigious bravery award in 2015, Radio Free Europe reported. He is now the only imprisoned journalist in the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. His final appeal is May 11.

The charges he was convicted on in September 2010, which included incitement to ethnic hatred and complicity in the murder of a police officer, were described as being unfounded in 2016 by the UN Human Rights Committee. His case has led to the breakdown in relations between Kyrgyzstan and the US, where the State Department awarded him a prestigious human rights prize in 2015.  [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/23/fury-about-us-award-for-askarov-in-kyrgyzstan-backlash-or-impact/]

……Askarova, who met her husband at art school in 1974, is only allowed two phone calls with him per year, and six prison visits. His health is deteriorating, she told the CPJ in 2019. At that time, he had hypotension and tachycardia, and now has painful joint condition osteochondritis, according to his wife. “His health is deteriorating and causing more and more concern,” wrote Askarova in her letter to the president. “I bring him painkillers and medicinal herbs. He prepares infusions and is alone in his fights against his pain and ailments.” The prison has denied him medication…..In the context of the emergency, 68-year-old Askarov is at high risk of contracting the virus. A coalition of human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, wrote to President Jeenbekov in March highlighting their concern and requesting medical care for the journalist.


Monthly list of major threats to press freedom includes Covid-19 cases

April 2, 2020

One Free Press Coalition logo

There is a list – updated monthly – by the One Free Press Coalition of nearly 40 news organizations, which identifies the 10 most urgent cases threatening press freedom around the world. Understanding the COVID-19 requires unbiased journalists, whose work requires protection. Not only does the act of informing the public carry risk to one’s own health but, in many countries, risk of retaliation. In China, freelance video journalist Chen Quishi disappeared on February 6 after informing family of plans to report on a temporary hospital in Wuhan, where the virus originated. Beijing has since expelled journalists from outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post and demanded personnel information from Voice of America and TIME. Mohammad Mosaed, a reporter in Iran who criticized the government’s response to the pandemic, has been barred from practicing journalism and suspended from social media. Family members of imprisoned Egyptian journalist Alaa Abdelfattah were detained for protesting on behalf of prisoners who are vulnerable to the spread of the virus. An Azerbaijani journalist freed in mid-March described detention conditions allowing one shower per week, without soap, he told CPJ

 

See the full list below:

1. Mohammad Mosaed (Iran)

Journalist, who warned about pandemic, banned from work and social media.

Freelance economic reporter Mohammad Mosaed awaits a court date, after intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested and interrogated him in February regarding social media accounts critical of government. The criticism included lack of preparedness to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Until trial, authorities bar him from practicing journalism and suspended his social media accounts. Last year he endured 16 days in Evin prison for his tweets and was released on bail.

2. Maria Ressa (Philippines)

Editor facing potential detention, arrested again March 28.

Rappler editor Maria Ressa is scheduled for trial April 24, expecting a verdict on a cyber-libel charge brought by local businessman Wilfredo Keng regarding a May 2012 story. The relevant law took effect four months after the story in question was published. Depending how judges interpret the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act, Ressa could face six years in prison.

3. Alaa Abdelfattah (Egypt)

Family of jailed journalist protests prisons’ inaction to prevent COVID-19 threat.

While blogger Alaa Abdelfattah is held in Cairo’s Tora Prison, three of his family members face charges of unlawful protest, illegal assembly and obstructing traffic in their call to protect prisoners from the spread of coronavirus. They were released on bail exceeding $300 apiece. After reporting about politics and human rights violations, Abdelfattah has endured threats and been told he will never go free if he speaks of guards’ abuse.

4. Chen Qiushi (China)

Journalist covering coronavirus disappeared more than six weeks ago.

Freelance video journalist Chen Quishi has not been seen since February 6, when he informed family of plans to report on a temporary hospital. In late January, he had traveled from Beijing to the city of Wuhan in Hubei province and began filming and reporting on the coronavirus health crisis, according to his posts on YouTube. Friends running his Twitter account believe he is likely held in residential surveillance.

5. Claudia Julieta Duque (Colombia)

Journalist fears for her life, amid government-orchestrated threats.

After 19 years of persecution and legal censorship, award-winning journalist Claudia Julieta Duque told IWMF that she learned on February 29 about an ongoing criminal threat against her life. According to Duque, agents of the state institution in charge of protecting human rights defenders and at-risk journalists, called the National Protection Unit (UNP), were reportedly ordered to carry out intelligence activities to infiltrate Duque’s security scheme and threaten her welfare.

6. Martin Doulgut (Chad)

Imprisoned publisher undertook hunger strike while awaiting appeal.

No date has been set, following postponement of a March 12 appeal in the case of Martin Inoua Doulguet, publisher of Salam Info. He was found guilty on criminal charges of defamation and conspiracy in September, and sentenced to three years in prison. The privately owned quarterly newspaper reports on crime and politics in Chad, and Doulguet’s penalty includes a $1,675 fine and paying part of $33,514 in plaintiff damages.

7. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan)

Journalist serving life sentence prepares for final appeal.

On April 6, a Kyrgyz court is scheduled to hear the final appeal in the case of award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov. The ethnic Uzbek, who reported on human rights, has spent more than nine years imprisoned on trumped-up charges that included incitement to ethnic hatred and complicity in the murder of a police officer. The decade-long case has drawn persistent international condemnation, and Kyrgyzstan’s only imprisoned journalist’s health deteriorates.

8. Roberto Jesús Quiñones (Cuba)

Journalist subject to inhumane prison conditions.

Cuban journalist Roberto Jesús Quiñones has spent more than six months behind bars, experiencing worsening treatment. Staff listen to all of his phone calls, have served him food containing worms, and upon learning of his secretly publishing from prison, suspended family visits and put him in solitary confinement. A municipal court in Guantánamo sentenced him to serve one year as a result of “resistance” and “disobedience” when police beat and detained him for covering a trial as a CubaNet contributor last April and his refusal to pay a fine imposed on him following this incident.

9. Ignace Sossou (Benin

Reporter experiences repeated retaliation for his work. 

On two different occasions last year, Benin courts delivered prison sentences to Ignace Sossou, a reporter for privately owned site Web TV. First was a one-month imprisonment and fine of $850 for publishing “false information” about local business dealings. Then an 18-month sentence and fine of $337 for defamation and disinformation in his reporting public statements made by Public Prosecutor Mario Mètonou.

10. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia)

Turkish and U.S. leaders continue pressuring for murdered journalist’s justice.

On March 25 Turkish officials indicted 20 Saudi nationals in the ongoing pursuit for answers surrounding Jamal Khashoggi’s brazen killing in Istanbul in 2018 and the Saudi crown prince’s role. That follows a March 3 news conference with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Representative Tom Malinowsk, and The Washington Post columnist’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, announcing that they are invoking procedures within the Senate Intelligence Committee to provide a congressional release of information from intelligence agencies.

https://time.com/5813095/press-freedom-threats-coronavirus-april-2020/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/katherinelove/2020/04/01/coronavirus-calls-for-journalists-safety-frontline-reporters-top-list-of-10-most-urgent-press-freedom-cases/?ss=leadership-strategy#29d1805e2bfc

Danny Ocean sings for Nansen award winner Azizbek Ashurov and refugees on 7 October in Geneva

October 2, 2019

Venezuelan singer Danny Ocean is one of the performers who will be honouring the winner of the 2019 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award at a ceremony in Geneva on 7 October. “I know how hard it is to leave behind family, friends and everything you know to build a life again somewhere new,” said Ocean, who rose to global fame with his hit Me Rehuso, in which he sings about the love he left behind when he moved from his native Venezuela to the United States of America. “Millions of people each year are forced into making this decision to protect themselves and their families. For those refugees who have lost everything, the humanity and support of others is their only lifeline. For many years the winners of the Nansen Refugee Award have been that lifeline. It is an honour for me to play a part in celebrating their extraordinary achievement.”

The ceremony will also feature a keynote address by Nadine Labaki, the Lebanese director of the Cannes Jury Prize winner, and Oscar-nominated film, Capernaum, and will be hosted by award-winning South African TV presenter Leanne Manas. Other performers joining them on the night will be Swiss musician Flèche Love and German poets and stage performers Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas.

Last year’s winner: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/02/south-sudanese-doctor-wins-2018-nansen-medal/.

https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2019/9/5d91b9434/danny-ocean-perform-global-humanitarian-award-ceremony.html

NGOs ask EU to intervene for human rights defender Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan

July 10, 2019

On 11 June 2019 NGOs wrote a joint Letter to High Representative Mogherini regarding detained Human Rights Defender Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan. His is a wellknown case, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/23/fury-about-us-award-for-askarov-in-kyrgyzstan-backlash-or-impact/

The human rights defenders in AI’s 2018 Write For Rights Campaign

November 25, 2018

OSCE and Human Rights Defenders at the Warsaw meeting: no smooth sailing

September 28, 2016

The Diplomat wrote under the title “OSCE Manages to Irritate Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Human Rights Advocates, Too” a good piece summarizing the situation at the latest annual human rights conference (officially the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting), taking place from 19-30 September 2016, in Warsaw.

Most attention should go to the recurring reprisals against HRDs and in particular (when they are out of reach through exile) against their family: Read the rest of this entry »

Kyrgyzstan today: Parliament rejects foreign agents bill!

May 12, 2016

Kyrgyz parliament

Bishkek (AKIpress)

In 2013 it was feared that Kyrgyzstan would follow the bad example of Russia with regard to introducing a foreign agent law even if the President had his doubts. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/kyrgyz-president-says-no-need-for-foreign-agent-law/]. On 13 April 2016 the Observatory published an urgent appeal to the lawmakers to reject the bill.[Kyrgyzstan: Parliament must reject discriminatory bill targeting NGOs / April 13, 2016 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT]. Today AKI press agency reports the good news that the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan rejected the bill.  Only 46 MPs voted for the bill and 65 MPs voted against it

Source: http://www.akipress.com/news:576990/

 

 

DETERMINED: the voices of 20 women human rights defenders

December 21, 2015

In order to match moral obligation with political declarations, the Global Fund for Women launched a new online campaign in October 2015 called Determined. Featuring the voices and stories of 20 courageous women human rights defenders from around the world, Determined raises awareness of global situations — from forced marriage and domestic violence to the denial of girls to receive education and the exclusion of women from political processes. The campaign recognizes the crucial role defenders play in effectively eliminating what continues to be the most acceptable human rights violation, the violence that prevents women from having fully realized and fully dignified lives.

On the occasion of international human rights day, Samina Ali (www.twitter.com/GroundbreakHers) in the Huffington Post of 11 December 2015 highlighted four of the 20 women human rights defenders in the campaign:

1. Nilce Naira Nascimento, Brazil
Article 23 of UDHR: Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

2015-12-10-1449719648-2069767-Nilce.jpg

Nilce responds to Brazil’s strong racial divide and inequality through her work with CRIOLA, a women’s rights organization led by black women who work with other Afro-Brazilian women and girls in the poorest areas of Rio de Janeiro to empower them to combat this rampant racism and improve the living standards for the Afro-Brazilian community.

2. Swastika TamaNg, Nepal
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

2015-12-10-1449719720-2122292-Swastika.jpg

When Swastika came out as a transgender woman five years ago, her father disowned her and she had to leave home. With little education, she had no job prospects so she turned to being a sex worker. Through her involvement with Mitini Nepal, an LGBTQI support and advocacy group, she was able to understand her gender identity and is now working to achieve human rights for LGBTQI people in Nepal, where existing laws protecting LGBTQI’s rights are rarely enforced.

3. Asipa Musaeva, Kyrgyzstan
Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

2015-12-10-1449719804-2914822-Asipa.jpg

At the young age of 17, Asipa was in an accident that severely injured her hip, leaving her permanently disabled. She found that perceptions around her disability made it difficult for her to find a job, or to be treated with dignity by those around her. She founded the Republican Independent Association of Women with Disabilities of Kyrgyzstan. In the face of tremendous obstacles, including her arrest, she and her group advocated for public spaces to be accessible for people with disabilities. The law was ultimately adopted, and today Asipa and her organization continue to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities

4. Nela Pamukovic, Croatia
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

2015-12-10-1449719900-9095078-Nela.jpg

In 1992, Nela co-founded the Centre for Women War Victims (ROSA) during the Bosnian war, when rape was used as a weapon to terrorize communities and intimidate women. Now, more than 20 years later, women survivors of rape are still healing from the trauma and stigma of their experience. ROSA provides women with a safe space to share their stories, and their advocacy led the Croatian parliament to pass the first law in the country recognizing rape as a war crime.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/

Source: This Human Rights Day, Fight for Human Rights in New Ways | Samina Ali

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

Fury about US award for Askarov in Kyrgyzstan: backlash or impact?

July 23, 2015

Awarding the State Department prize for human rights defenders to Azimzhan Askarov in Kyrgyzstan has led to a most interesting follow up. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/us-state-department-2014-human-rights-defender-award-to-azimjon-askarov-and-foro-penal/]In retaliation Kyrgyzstan has cancelled a coöperation treaty with the USA which has been in force since 1993.

The bilateral agreement that facilitated cooperation between the countries in certain areas was renounced by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev.As a result US aid to Kyrgyzstan will no longer be free of taxes and other custom duties as from August 20. US civil and military aid personnel, working in Kyrgyzstan will be deprived of their near diplomatic status. On Monday, the US warned Kyrgyzstan that if the accord got canceled, it would damage a range of its aid programs in the country.

On 23 July 2015 Tatyana Kudryavtseva of the 24.kg news agency collected a range of reaction from a variety of persons in Kyrgyzstan under the title “Very expensive Azimzhan Askarov“. Interesting to note that almost all ‘expert’ reactions assume that Askarov is guilty with the exception of the Chairwoman of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. Still, there is almost unanimity that the move by the Kyrgyz Government was ‘unwise’ to say the least. Here follow some excerpts:

Giving the US State Department Award to the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has become a real time bomb. It would seem that nothing terrible has happened. But the news about the award was the trigger. It all ended in scandal – Kyrgyzstan’s government denounced the agreement with the USA on cooperation of 1993. Almost all the projects implemented in the country at the expense of American money turned out to be under threat. Read the rest of this entry »