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Kyrgyzstan: Interrogation and intimidation of human rights defenders Ms Tolekan Ismailova and Ms Aziza Abdirasulova
Human rights defenders Ms Tolekan Ismailova and Ms Aziza Abdirasulova have been subjected to interrogation and intimidation in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, following their activities monitoring the human rights situation in southern Kyrgyzstan in the wake of inter-ethnic fighting.
Tolekan Ismailova is chairwoman of the Human Rights Centre “Citizens against corruption” and Aziza Abdirasulova is the head of the Public Foundation Kylym Shamy.
On 28 June 2010, Tolekan Ismailova and Aziza Abdirasulova were called to the Osh Regional Prosecutor's office. It is reported that they thought that it would be in relation to a request they had previously presented to the Prosecutor to visit the detention facilities in the city of Osh. However, they were in fact called as witnesses in criminal case number 152-1079, opened on 12 June 2010 under Art. 233 parts 1, 2 and 3 (organisation of mass disorders) and Art. 97 part 2 (killings) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Interrogation was conducted by investigator Malaev.
Tolekan Ismailova and Aziza Abdirasulova were interrogated separately for about one and a half hours in the presence of their lawyer, Mr Tair Asanov. The interrogation primarily concerned information published on the website www.24.kg, which referred to Ismailova and Abdirasulova as its sources. The information in question, a news piece, claimed that 20 people were killed during a special police operation in Nariman village of Karasuu district, Osh region, on 21 June 2010. The journalist who wrote the piece, however, has reportedly confirmed that he had received the information not from Tolekan Ismailova nor Aziza Abdirasulova, but rather from a mailing list. He also reportedly confirmed that the news piece was corrected on the same day upon request from Ismailova and Abdirasulova.
Tolekan Ismailova has reported to Front Line that the same day, 28 June 2010, a group of unknown men approached their car and told both human rights defenders that they were not welcome in Osh because they were “defending the rights of Uzbeks”. The human rights defenders have also reported a possible attempt to cause their car to crash.
Front Line believes that the interrogation and intimidation of Tolekan Ismailova and Aziza Abdirasulova are a direct result of their legitimate human rights activities, particularly with respect to their crucial work in monitoring and researching the situation in the south of Kyrgyzstan following the ethnic conflict. Front Line is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of aforementioned human rights defenders. Front Line is also concerned by any interrogation of human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, especially in the light of arrest of Mr Azimjan Askarov, a human rights defender who has been charged with organisation of mass disorder and who is currently detained in Bazar Korgon.