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Human rights defenders alarmed about threats to democratic progress in KR

The human rights organization International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) urges the European Union to address the disturbing pattern of stigmatization, harassment and reprisals targeting those who are critical of the current situation in Kyrgyzstan.

«We are alarmed about the growing attacks on those who speak up against injustice, abuse of power, aggressive nationalism and other treats to democratic progress in Kyrgyzstan," said Brigitte Dufour, IPHR Director. «It is key that the EU makes it clear to Kyrgyzstan’s authorities that this course is not acceptable for a society aspiring to be a free and open one," she continued.

A number of independent media outlets, journalists and human rights defenders have faced crippling defamation lawsuits initiated by the General Prosecutor because of articles featuring unflattering remarks about the president.

Negative and suspicious attitudes toward foreign-funded NGOs remain prevalent in Kyrgyzstan, although the parliament eventually rejected a Russia-inspired bill last year that would have required all NGOs that receive foreign funding and engage in broadly worded «political» activities to register as «foreign agents».

In a number of recent cases, authorities have curtailed peaceful protests and detained protest participants in violation of the country’s liberally worded Law on Assemblies.

According to the organization, the downward trend in freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms now seen in Kyrgyzstan is taking place as the country is preparing for presidential elections, scheduled to be held on 15 October 2017.

While the elections are set to be competitive, unlike in other Central Asian countries, recent developments risk hampering the openness of the campaign and undermining public debate on issues of concern to citizens, IPHR believes.