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Women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva acquitted.

Status: 
Acquitted
About the situation

On 14 June 2024, the Pervomaiskyi District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, fully acquitted women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders will remain under house arrest until the decision comes into force on July 14, 2024.

On 10 June 2024, within the trial against the representatvies of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad in Pervomaiskii District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the Prosecutor requested 20 years of prison time for women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva. The Prosecutor also requested to confiscate the entirety of the women human rights defender’s property, including their homes and personal belongings.

On 25 April 2023, the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Kyrgyztan moved to press additional charges against all representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve, including women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. All representatives, targeted since October 2022, are now being accused of “forcible seizure of power” a criminal offense stipulated by the Article 326 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

On 12 April 2023, women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released from pre-trial detention under house arrest, but will still face trial. On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. She is the only woman human rights defender detained in response to the work of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve who remains in pre-trial detention.

On 17 February 2023, Pervomaisky District Court of the city of Bishkek in Kyrsgyzstan extended the pre-trial detention of women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders will now remain in pre-trial detention until 20 April 2023.

On 13 November 2022, the Pervomaisky District Court took the decision to extend the term of the pre-trial detention until 20 February 2023 for women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. On 14 November 2022, women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova commenced a hunger strike in opposition to the decision of the Pervomaisky District Court.

On 11 November 2022, Bishkek City Court rejected the appeal to change the interim measure from detention to house arrest for woman human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova and Asya Sasykbayeva. The same occurred on 10 November 2022 for woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova, and on 9 November 2022 for woman human rights defender Gulnara Dzhurabayeva.

About the HRD

Asya SasykbayevaAsya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of human rights organization “Interbilim.”  Interbilim is an organization that is set out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance, and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and monitoring of the activities of state bodies.

14 June 2024
Women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva acquitted.

On 14 June 2024, the Pervomaiskyi District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, fully acquitted women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders will remain under house arrest until the decision comes into force on July 14, 2024.

Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defender, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law,” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the human rights organization and think tank Institute of Civic Analysis. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender who has collaborated with “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of the human rights organization “Interbilim.” Interbilim is an organization that sets out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and the monitoring of the activities of state bodies. In addition, the four women human rights defenders are also members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve.

On 14 June 2024, the Pervomaiskyi District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, ruled to fully acquit 22 members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve, including women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva. Since their detentions in October 2022, the women human rights defenders were first accused of “conspiring to organize mass riots” and then, in January 2023, faced an aggravated charge of “forcible seizure of power,” both criminal offenses envisioned respectively by Article 36-278 and Article 326 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. The Prosecutor requested 20 years of prison time, and property confiscation as a sanction to the activists, politicians, and women human rights defenders on trial. Despite the full acquittal, the women human rights defenders will remain under house arrest until the decision comes into force on July 14, 2024.

It remains unclear if the Prosecutor will appeal the decision to acquit the members on Kempir-Abad Committee. The trial against the members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad commenced in June 2023, and happened behind closed doors, following the decision to classify the trial in February 2023. This unjust treatment included hearings being held in the absence of defense lawyers, defense motions such as to commission expert studies of court materials repeatedly being rejected, defense witnesses not being allowed to testify in court, and defense lawyers not being granted adequate time to prepare their cases. The announcement of the verdict, which usually remains accessible even in classified trials, was also closed to the public.

The women human rights defenders were arrested in October 2022 together with 23 other activists and representatives of political parties, who peacefully opposed the transfer of the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and called for transparency from the government of Kyrgyzstan regarding their agreement with Uzbekistan authorities. In November 2022, during their pre-trial detention, Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova engaged in a hunger strike to oppose their detention conditions. In February 2023, while in pre-trial detention, Klara Sooronkulova was hospitalized. In April 2023, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released under house arrest after spending seven months in pre-trial detention. In June 2023, the court released Rita Karasartova; she spent nine months in pre-trial detention. After the release, all four women human rights defenders were reported to have faced surveillance and censorship from the state authorities.

Front Line Defenders welcomes the full acquittal of women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Asya Sasykbayeva and Rita Karasartova. The organization urges the Kyrgyzstani authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the restrictions, including house arrest, imposed against these women, as it is an unnecessary measure due to their full acquittal. Front Line Defenders expresses hope that the Kyrgyzstani authorities will create an enabling environment for these women and their future human rights work, and will guarantee that all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan can carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

11 June 2024
Women human rights defenders from the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad face 20 years of prison time

On 10 June 2024, within the trial against the representatvies of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad in Pervomaiskii District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the Prosecutor requested 20 years of prison time for women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva. The Prosecutor also requested to confiscate the entirety of the women human rights defender’s property, including their homes and personal belongings. All 27 members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad face similar sentences.

Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defender, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the human rights organization and think tank, Institute of Civic Analysis. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who has collaborated with “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of the human rights organization “Interbilim.” Interbilim is an organization that sets out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance, and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and the monitoring of the activities of state bodies.

On 10 June 2024, human rights defenders from Kyrgyzstan reported that within the trial against the representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad, ongoing since June 2023, the Prosecutor requested 20 years of prison time and confiscation of property for all representatives, including Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders are being accused of “conspiring to organize mass riots” and of “forcible seizure of power”. These are both criminal offences envisioned respectively by Article 36-278 and Article 326 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

An almost a year-long trial in Pervomaiskii District Court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, has been classified, thus it is impossible to know what the grounds for such appaling sentences are. Kyrgyzstani human rights defenders have called the trial non-transparent, and the court alledgedly failed to properly review the case, as no evidentiary support was offered to back the conspiring and seizure of power claims.

The women human rights defenders were arrested in October 2022 together with 23 other activists and representatives of political parties, who peacefully opposed the transferring of the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and called for transparency from the government of Kyrgyzstan about their agreement with Uzbekistan authorities. In November 2022, during their pre-trial detention, Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova engaged in a hunger strike to oppose their detention conditions. In February 2023, while in pre-trial detention, Klara Sooronkulova was hospitalized. In April 2023, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released from pre-trial detention under house arrest, after spending 7 months in pre-trial detention. In June 2023, the court released Rita Karasartova; she spend 9 months in pre-trial detention. After the release, all women human rigths defenders reported to have faced surveillance and censorship from the state authorities.

Fornt Line Defenders condemns the request to sentence women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva to 20 years of prison time with property confiscation. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva, as the organization believes that these charges are solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

28 April 2023
Aggravated charges for representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad

On 25 April 2023, the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Kyrgyztan moved to press additional charges against all representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve, including women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. All representatives, targeted since October 2022, are now being accused of “forcible seizure of power” a criminal offense stipulated by the Article 326 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Under this article alone women human rights defenders can face up to 15 years of prison time. These aggravated charges can also be a prerequisite for the law enforcement officials to return women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva, who were recently released on house arrest to a pre-trial detention center.

On 12 April 2023, women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released on house-arrest from pre-trial detention. On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. She is the only woman human rights defender detained in response to the work of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve who remains in pre-trial detention. Before the aggravated charges, the women human rights defenders were being accused of conspiring to organise mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

20 April 2023
Woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova will remain in pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023 while colleagues of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve released on house arrest

On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. She is the only woman human rights defender detained in response to the work of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve who remains in pre-trial detention. On 12 April 2023, women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released from pre-trial detention under house arrest, but will still face trial.

Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the human rights organisation and think tank, Institute of Civic Analysis. Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defender, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who has collaborated with the human rights organisation “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and former head of “Interbilim.”

On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. The hearing concerning the fate of Rita Karasartova started on 18 April 2023, yet, the decision was only announced the next day. On 12 April 2023, Pervomayskii district Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to release women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva from their pre-trial detention and place them under house arrest, however, they still will face trial. Moreover, on 14 March 2023 Bishkek City Court partially removed the classified status from the Kempir-Abad-related case file, which had been fully classified since January 2023. This decision allowed the recent court hearings to be open to the public.

Woman human rights defender Rita Karasarkova’s health has severly deteriorated since she was placed in detention in October 2022. Her daughter recently stated in her social media post that the conditions of the Pre-trial Detention Center #1, where Rita Karasartova is held, are absolutely inhuman. She said that since the pre-trial detention is a facility that is designed for temporary placement, it is not suitable or equipped for long-term detention. The detention center authorities refuse woman human rights defender her visitation rights; she also can’t use the phone to call her relatives. In June 2023 Rita Karasartova will have spent eight months in detention.

On 24 October 2022, Kyrgyzstani law enforcement officers arbitrarily arrested and detained women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva for their peaceful protest against transferring ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. The women human rights defenders are being accused of conspiring to organise mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. If charged, the women human rights defenders may face up to 10 years in prison. They are among 24 other activists and representatives of political parties who peacefully opposed transferring the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and who called for the government of Kyrgyzstan to be transparent about their agreement with the Uzbekistan authorities. On 17 November 2022, the Kempir-Abad water reserve was transferred to Uzbekistan.

Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned about the extention of the term of pre-trial detention for a woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. Front Line defenders also expresses serious concerns about the conditions of Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention and the limitation of her visitation rights. Front Line Defenders welcomes the authorities’ decision to release woman human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva from pre-trial detention, however, condemns their placement under house arrest and calls for their immediate and unconditional aqquittal. In light of the recent developments, Front Line Defenders reiterates its call to immediately and unconditionally release all representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reseve and to drop all charges against them as it believes that these are solely motivated by their peaceful human rights work.

20 April 2023
Three women human rights defenders from Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve released on house arrest

On 12 April 2023, women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva were released from pre-trial detention under house arrest, but will still face trial. On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. She is the only woman human rights defender detained in response to the work of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve who remains in pre-trial detention.

Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the human rights organisation and think tank, Institute of Civic Analysis. Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defender, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who has collaborated with the human rights organisation “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and former head of “Interbilim.”

On 19 April 2023, Pervomayskii District Court ruled to extend woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention until 20 June 2023. The hearing concerning the fate of Rita Karasartova started on 18 April 2023, yet, the decision was only announced the next day. On 12 April 2023, Pervomayskii district Court of the City of Bishkek ruled to release women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva from their pre-trial detention and place them under house arrest, however, they still will face trial. Moreover, on 14 March 2023 Bishkek City Court partially removed the classified status from the Kempir-Abad-related case file, which had been fully classified since January 2023. This decision allowed the recent court hearings to be open to the public.

Woman human rights defender Rita Karasarkova’s health has severly deteriorated since she was placed in detention in October 2022. Her daughter recently stated in her social media post that the conditions of the Pre-trial Detention Center #1, where Rita Karasartova is held, are absolutely inhuman. She said that since the pre-trial detention is a facility that is designed for temporary placement, it is not suitable or equipped for long-term detention. The detention center authorities refuse woman human rights defender her visitation rights; she also can’t use the phone to call her relatives. In June 2023 Rita Karasartova will have spent eight months in detention.

On 24 October 2022, Kyrgyzstani law enforcement officers arbitrarily arrested and detained women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva for their peaceful protest against transferring ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. The women human rights defenders are being accused of conspiring to organise mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. If charged, the women human rights defenders may face up to 10 years in prison. They are among 24 other activists and representatives of political parties who peacefully opposed transferring the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and who called for the government of Kyrgyzstan to be transparent about their agreement with the Uzbekistan authorities. On 17 November 2022, the Kempir-Abad water reserve was transferred to Uzbekistan.

Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned about the extention of the term of pre-trial detention for a woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. Front Line defenders also expresses serious concerns about the conditions of Rita Karasartova’s pre-trial detention and the limitation of her visitation rights. Front Line Defenders welcomes the authorities’ decision to release woman human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, and Asya Sasykbayeva from pre-trial detention, however, condemns their placement under house arrest and calls for their immediate and unconditional aqquittal. In light of the recent developments, Front Line Defenders reiterates its call to immediately and unconditionally release all representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reseve and to drop all charges against them as it believes that these are solely motivated by their peaceful human rights work.

21 February 2023
Women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva will remain in pre-trial detention

On 17 February 2023, Pervomaisky District Court of the city of Bishkek in Kyrsgyzstan extended the pre-trial detention of women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders will now remain in pre-trial detention until 20 April 2023.

Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defender, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the human rights organization and think tank, Institute of Civic Analysis. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who has collaborated with “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of the human rights organization “Interbilim.” Interbilim is an organization that sets out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance, and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and the monitoring of the activities of state bodies.

On 17 February 2023, Pervomaisky District Court of the city of Bishkek extended the pre-trial detention of women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. The women human rights defenders, all of whom were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on 24 October 2022, will now remain in detention until 20 April 2023. Earlier, on 18 January 2023, the Head of the Investigative task force working on the criminal case against the members of the Committere to Protect Kempir-Abad, informed the defence attorneys that the case was classified. The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan didn’t provide any justification to the lawyers and defendents as to why this was the case.

On 10 February 2023, colleagues of woman human rights defender Klara Sooronkulova shared that she is facing additional charges for reposting a Facebook post that was part of the campaign “#kamasanarbaarybyzdykamagyla,” translates: “if you put him in jail, put us all in jail.” The campaign was designed to protest the February 2022 arrest of political activist Mirlan Uraimov. In February 2022 when the woman human rights defender re-posted the aforementioned post, the State Committee for National Security of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan initiated a legal expert review of the post. Despite the fact that the results of the expertise stated there was no basis for criminal charges, Klara Sooronkulova faced persecution for the same Facebook post, charged with conspiring to organize mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Her colleagues suggest that these charges are related to the wider persecution of the members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad.

On 10 January 2023, Bishkek law enforcement officers detained 30 peaceful protesters, who called for an immediate release of all the activists, journalists, and human rights defenders from the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad water reserve. The police pushed the protesters away from the building of the Ministry of interior, where the peaceful demonstration commenced. After the protest moved to the Gorky Square, the police officers continued to harras the protesters, forcing them to hide their posters that called for an immediate release of the members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad. Mostly the protesters were friends and family of those in pre-trial detention; all the protesters were released the same day.

On 24 October 2022, Kyrgyzstani law enforcement officers arbitrarily arrested and detained women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva for their peaceful protest against transferring ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. The women human rights defenders are being accused of conspiring to organize mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. If charged, the women human rights defenders may face up to 10 years in prison. They are among 24 other activists and representatives of political parties who peacefully opposed transferring the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and who called for the government of Kyrgyzstan to be transparent about their agreement with the Uzbekistan authorities. On 14 November 2022, women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova began a hunger strike in opposition to the decision of the Pervomaisky District Court; the hunger stike ended at the end of December 2022. On 17 November 2022, the Kempir-Abad water reserve was transferred to Uzbekistan.

Front Line Defenders condemns yet another extension of the pre-trial detention term of the women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva, who were a part of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad. Front Line Defenders expresses its grave concerns at the Ministry of Interior’s decision to keep the case against the members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad classified. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to immediately release women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva, as well as other members of Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad, and drop all charges against them, as it believes that these are solely motivated by their peaceful human rights work.

19 December 2022
Extended detention of woman human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva

On 13 November 2022, the Pervomaisky District Court took the decision to extend the term of the pre-trial detention until 20 February 2023 for women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. On 14 November 2022, women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova commenced a hunger strike in opposition to the decision of the Pervomaisky District Court. According to the statement issued by the women human rights defenders, the hunger strike of Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova will continue indefinitely.

Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defenders, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the Institute of Civic Analysis, a human rights organization and a think tank. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who collaborated with “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of human rights organization “Interbilim.” Interbilim is an organization that is set out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance, and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and monitoring of the activities of state bodies.

On 13 November 2022, the Pervomaisky District Court took the decision to extend the term of the pre-trial detention until 20 February 2023 for women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva. According to Klara Sooronkulova, she suspects that the Court will further the accusations, and in the end, the women human rights defenders will be accused of an attempt to seize state power. On 14 November 2022, Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova commenced a hunger strike in opposition to the decision made by the Pervomaisky District Court, joining other members of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad. According to the statement issued by the women human rights defenders, “the only viable way of fighting for our rights and freedoms, but also for the overall democratic values and the rule of law, is to begin the hunger strike.” The hunger strike of Klara Sooronkulova and Rita Karasartova will continue indefinitely.

On 24 October 2022, Kyrgyzstani law enforcement officers arbitrary arrested and detained women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva for their peaceful protest against the transferring the ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. The women human rights defenders are being accused of conspiring to organize mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. If charged, the women human rights defenders can face up to 10 years of prison time. They were among 24 other activists and representatives of political parties, who peacefully opposed the transferring of the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan and called for transparency from the government of Kyrgyzstan about their agreement with Uzbekistan authorities. On 17 November 2022, Kempir-Abad water reserve was transferred to Uzbekistan.

Front Line Defenders condemns the extension of the pre-trial detention of the women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva, who were a part of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to immediately release women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova and Asya Sasykbayeva, as well as other members of Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad, and d rop all charges against them, as it believes that it is solely motivated by their peaceful human rights work.

18 November 2022
Women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and Asya Sasykbayeva to remain in pre-trial detention until 20 December 2022

On 11 November 2022, Bishkek City Court rejected the appeal to change the interim measure from detention to house arrest for woman human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova and Asya Sasykbayeva. The same occurred on 10 November 2022 for woman human rights defender Rita Karasartova, and on 9 November 2022 for woman human rights defender Gulnara Dzhurabayeva.

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Klara Sooronkulova is a woman human rights defenders, chairwoman of the NGO “School of Law” and a chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Political Prisoners. WHRD carries out out systematic monitoring of trials of political prisoners, work on the issues of freedom of speech, judicial reforms, and corruption. She vocally opposed laws on social media censorship and the Russia copy-cat foreign agents law.

Rita Karasartova is a woman human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. She works for the Institute of Civic Analysis, a human rights organization and a think tank. The organization works to monitor the selection and rotation process within the Kyrgyzstani judiciary system. The woman human rights defender also supports provides independent legal expertese to the local participatory governments. Rita Karasartova is one of the first women human rights defenders, who started publically covering issues within in the law enforcement and judiciary systems in Kyrgyz language.

Gulnara Jurabayeva is a woman human rights defender, who collaborated with “Interbilim” since 2020, and Asya Sasykbayeva is a founder and ex-head of human rights organization “Interbilim.” Interbilim is an organization that is set out to promote the creation and effective functioning of democratic institutions, ensuring democratic governance, and transparency of the state system through the mechanisms of public examination and monitoring of the activities of state bodies.

The women human rights defenders appealed the decision of the Pervomayskii District Court of the City of Bishkek on 25 October 2022 to detain them for 2 months for their peaceful protest against the transferring the ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. Klara Sooronkulova, Asya Sasykbayeva, Rita Karasartova, and Gulnara Dzhurabayeva will remain in detention until 20 December 2022. The women human rights defenders are being accused of conspiring to organize mass riots, a criminal offense envisioned by Article 36-278 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. If charged, the women human rights defenders can face up to 10 years of prison time. The Court refused to take into account that two women human rights defenders have young children and two women human rights defenders are over 60 years old. Some of their colleagues, who are detained in Temporary Isolation Ward #1 of the City of Bishkek, report that the detention conditions are very poor and the incarceration units lack proper heating.

On 24 October 2022, Kyrgyzstani law enforcement officers arbitrary arrested and detained women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva for their peaceful protest against the tranferring the ownership of the Kempir-Abad water reserve from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. They were among 24 other activists and representatives of political parties, who peacefully opposed the transferring of the Kempir-Abad water reserve to Uzbekistan, stating that Kempir-Abad is an important source of pottable water for the local comunities, and that the transfering of the reservoir to Uzbekistan will affect local farmers who will be forcefully displaced in Uzbekistan.

On 22 October 2022, human rights defenders, local activists, journalists, and political actors established a Committee to protect the Kempir-Abad in opposing the transfering of the water reservoir from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. The Committee was set up as a result of public convening of local communities dwelling the premises of the Kempir-Abad on 15 October 2022, where representatives of the local communities called upon the Kyrgyztani government to stop the transferring of the water reservoir and the exchange of territories between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. On 21 October 2022, in Uzgen District of the Osh region, representatives of the local communities affected by the transferring of the Kempir-Abad reserve from villages of Kurshab and Kyzyl-Oktyabr held a peaceful march.

On 23 October 2022, premises of homes of representatives of the Committee to Protect Kempir-Abad in Bishkek and Osh were raided by various Ministry of Interior authorities, and personal equipment was ceised during the raids. On 24 October 2022, twenty-four representatives of the Committee, including women human rights defenders Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, Klara Sooronkulova, Rita Karasartova, and Asya Sasykbayeva, were arbirtary detained and on 25 October 2022, sentenced to 2 months of pre-trial detention.

Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned about the detention of women human rights defenders Klara Sooronkulova, Asya Sasykbayeva, Rita Karasartova, and Gulnara Dzhurabayeva and considers this detention as a retaliation against their peaceful human rights work and public criticism of the decision to transfer the Kempir-Abad reservoir to Uzbekistan. The detention of the women human rights defenders is part of the escalating persecution of human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan and their increasing censorship.