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Authorities escalate crackdown on freedom of expression - Amnesty International

The actions of the Kyrgyzstani authorities represent a new overt attack on the right to freedom of expression and seriously undermine the country’s obligations under international human rights law. Amnesty International stated in connection with the unprecedented arrests of journalists.

«Dawn raids on journalists’ homes, detaining them under vague and overly-broad charges, and denying them access to legal representation, are worrying signs of an escalation in the crackdown on critical voices in Kyrgyzstan,» Maisy Weicherding, Amnesty International’s Central Asia Researcher, said.

«The use of vague and unsubstantiated charges like ‘inciting unrest’ and ‘propaganda of war’ blatantly exposes the arbitrary nature of these criminal proceedings. The authorities in Kyrgyzstan must stop their repression of dissent and immediately and unconditionally free these journalists and all others who have been thrown behind bars solely for freely expressing their views and ideas,» she added.

Amnesty International has documented the deterioration of the right to freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan, including the closure or restriction of the activities of independent media outlets and the criminal prosecution of activists, including in the so-called «Kempir-Abad case.»

On January 16, the office of Temirov Live was searched and editorial equipment was confiscated. The police searched homes and detained 11 current and former employees of the media outlet.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing that, as a result of «forensic linguistic examination» of content found on the social media pages of Temirov Live and Ait Ait Dese on December 30, criminal proceedings had been initiated against them under article 278, part 3 of the Criminal Code for «calling for riots.»

Yesterday evening, all detainees were arrested until the end of investigation by court decision.

Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy, Sapar Akunbekov, Azamat Ishenbekov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Aktilek Kaparov, Tynystan Asypbekov, Maksat Tazhibek uulu, Zhoodar Buzumov, Zhumabek Turdaliev, Aike Beishekeeva and Akyl Orozbekov will be kept in Bishkek pretrial detention center 1 until March 13. All of them are former or current employees of Temirov Live.