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Media community: Authorities must be transparent and accountable

Media community made an appeal. It is timed to coincide with the World Press Freedom Day. Media representatives ask to pay special attention to the importance of protection of freedom of speech and freedom of the media in Kyrgyzstan.

The appeal says that today journalists from non-state media in Kyrgyzstan are facing an unprecedented level of intimidation and harassment on social media, which started back in 2019. Then a series of serious journalistic investigations was carried out in Kyrgyzstan, during which high-level corruption and schemes of embezzlement through customs were revealed. According to openDemocracy, numerous troll factories are organized in the country.

«We believe that the goal of the campaigns of these factories is to discredit journalists of non-state media and their investigations through massive paid posts on social media, in order, on the one hand, to drown out journalists, and on the other, to manipulate and influence citizens and voters. For example, attacks on journalists from non-state media in October 2020 after the parliamentary elections and the change of government included threats of physical violence and attacks not only online, but also offline,» the appeal says.

Online attacks against journalists continued in November-January 2020. This was due to the fact that journalists of non-state media asked questions about substantive challenges and risks of the new version of the Constitution, or informed the public about procedural violations committed regarding the process of amending the Constitution.

From statement of the media community

Media experts stress that high-ranking public politicians not only do not condemn attacks on journalists by their supporters, but they themselves do not refrain from ambiguous statements about journalists and other citizens who legitimately exercise their constitutional right and express their opinions.

Persecution of an alternative opinion, unfortunately, continues in the state media, which are used for propaganda and one-sided coverage of what is happening in the country.

«Despite the colossal pressure, journalists from non-state media work every day, providing citizens of our country with access to information. This was especially important these days, when an armed conflict took place on the border territory of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Thanks to the materials of the journalists of our non-state media and their timely spread in foreign languages, access to reliable information about what was happening in our country, not only within Kyrgyzstan, but also far beyond its borders, was provided,» the appeal says.

Despite all the difficulties and risks, journalists and reporters on the scene and not only fulfilled their duty responsibly, showing themselves as active defenders of human rights and mediators in the issue of de-escalation and settlement of the situation through collection and dissemination of reliable, balanced and timely information. Media experts remind: the situation on the border is still fragile and unstable, in this regard, it is worth reminding the authorities once again that in order the society to trust and take decisions of the state, they must be transparent and accountable.

For this, the state must provide the media with access to information so that journalists, in turn, could provide society with prompt and reliable information about events and decisions taken in the country.

From statement of the media community

The conflict on the border took place on April 28 in the area of ​ Golovnoy water distribution point. It later developed into the use of army units and heavy equipment. A number of border villages in Batken region were attacked. The parties finally agreed on the armistice and withdrawal of troops only on the evening of May 1.

At least 179 Kyrgyzstanis sought medical help, 34 people died, including a child. More than 33,000 people have been evacuated from the conflict zone. The Tajik side unofficially reported more than 150 wounded and about 10 dead.

According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, 78 houses, two schools, a village first-aid station, a kindergarten, a police station, three checkpoints, ten gas filling stations and eight shops were destroyed in Kyrgyz border villages. Border outposts were also damaged. According to the Tajik side, more than 10 houses have been destroyed by fire in Khoja Alo border village.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Kyrgyzstan began pre-trial proceedings under the article «Crime against peace» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.