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11 Temirov Live members sent to pretrial detention for two months

Status: 
Pretrial Detention
About the situation

On 17 January 2024, Pervomaiskiy district court of Bishkek sent 11 journalists and human rights defenders, current and former reporters of the Temirov Live investigative group, to pretrial detention until 13 March 2024.

On 16 January 2024, law enforcement officers in Kyrgyzstan raided the office of the media outlet Temirov Live as well as houses of 11 human rights defenders and journalists, including current and former members of Temirov Live. After that, several human rights defenders were taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for questioning. They were then labelled as suspects in a criminal case on "calls for mass civil unrest" that were found in the publications of Temirov Live and Ayt Ayt Dese, and detained for 48 hours.

About Ayt Ayt Dese

Ayt Ayt Dese is a YouTube-based project which aims at popularising human rights issues by performing and publishing folk songs on human rights topics. Among others, in its songs Ayt Ayt Dese has covered the investigations of Temirov Live.

18 January 2024
11 Temirov Live members sent to pretrial detention for two months

On 17 January 2024, Pervomaiskiy district court of Bishkek sent 11 journalists and human rights defenders, current and former reporters of the Temirov Live investigative group, to pretrial detention until 13 March 2024. Among them are Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy, Sapar Akunbekov, Ayke Beishekeeva, Joodar Buzumov, Aktilek Kaparov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Tynystan Asypbek, Maksat Tajibek uulu, Azamat Ishenbekov, Zhumabek Turdaliev and Akyl Orozbekov. All human rights defenders are suspected in "calling for mass civil unrest" whereas Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy and Azamat Ishenbekov are also labelled as “organizers” of the said mass civil unrest. If found guilty, Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy and Azamat Ishenbekov can face up to 10 years in prison, and the rest of the defenders – up to 8 years of imprisonment.

Temirov Live is a YouTube-based media outlet that investigates and reports on corruption of state and non-state actors in Kyrgyzstan. It was founded in 2020 by Bolot Temirov, a Kyrgyzstani human rights defender and prominent journalist whose work focuses on investigating corruption. Ayt Ayt Dese is a YouTube-based project which aims at popularising human rights issues by performing and publishing folk songs on human rights topics. Among others, in its songs Ayt Ayt Dese has covered the investigations of Temirov Live.

Earlier on 16 January 2024, law enforcement officers in Kyrgyzstan raided the office of Temirov Live as well as houses of the current and former members of Temirov Live. The law enforcement officers sealed the office of Temirov Live, arrested 11 human rights defenders and journalists, and brought them to the police station for questioning. One of the human rights defenders reported his cell phone and computer were confiscated.

Front Line Defenders condemns the prosecution of the current and former reporters of Temirov Live and believes that judicial harassment against them is a retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful human rights work. Front Line Defenders urges Kyrgyzstan’s authorities to release the unjustly detained journalists, close the criminal case, and seize the judicial harassment of human rights defenders and independent journalists in Kyrgyzstan.

16 January 2024
Targetting of Temirov Live and its members with raids, detention, and a criminal case opened on "calls for mass civil unrest"

On 16 January 2024, law enforcement officers in Kyrgyzstan raided the office of the media outlet Temirov Live as well as houses of 11 human rights defenders and journalists, including current and former members of Temirov Live. After that, several human rights defenders were taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for questioning. They were then labelled as suspects in a criminal case on "calls for mass civil unrest" that were found in the publications of Temirov Live and Ayt Ayt Dese, and detained for 48 hours.

Temirov Live is a YouTube-based media outlet that investigates and reports on corruption of state and non-state actors in Kyrgyzstan. It was founded in 2020 by Bolot Temirov, a Kyrgyzstani human rights defender and prominent journalist whose work focuses on investigating corruption. Ayt Ayt Dese is a YouTube-based project which aims at popularising human rights issues by performing and publishing folk songs on human rights topics. Among others, in its songs Ayt Ayt Dese has covered the investigations of Temirov Live.

On 16 January 2024, the office of Temirov Live was raided, after which it was sealed. Searches also took place in the homes of current and former members of the Temirov Live and Ayt Ayt Dese, including Temirov Live director Makhabat Tazhibek kyzy and human rights defenders and journalists Sapar Akunbekov, Ayke Beishekeeva, Joodar Buzumov, Aktilek Kaparov, Saipidin Sultanaliev, Tynystan Asypbek, Maksat Tajibek uulu, Azamat Ishenbekov, Zhumabek Turdaliev and Akyl Orozbekov, after which they were all taken to a police station for questioning. Saipidin Sultanaliev reported his cell phone and computer being confiscated. After the questioning, the human rights defenders were detained for 48 hours on the grounds of being suspects in a criminal case.

Earlier on 30 December 2023, police officers reported finding information calling for mass civil unrest on the web pages of Temirov Live and "Ayt Ayt Dese". The Ministry of Interior stated that on 12 January 2024, an expert opinion corroborated that the materials published on the pages of Ayt Ayt Dese and Temirov Live "contain signs of calls for protests and mass riots." A criminal case has been opened on the charges on "calls for active disobedience to the lawful demands of representatives of the authorities and mass civil unrest, as well as calls for violence against citizens". The apprehended journalists have witness statuses which does not allow them to have a procedural right to remain silent.

On the previous day, 15 January 2024, law enforcement officers also searched the office of the news agency 24.kg in Bishkek, confiscated all equipment and sealed the office. The management of the media outlet was taken to the State Committee for National Security for questioning. According to the State Committee, the search was conducted as part of the investigation of a criminal case on "propaganda of war". Targetting of journalists with searches and criminal cases fits into this pattern of systemic limiting of rights and freedoms of human rights defenders.

Front Line Defenders condemns the attack on human rights defenders and independent journalists in Kyrgyzstan as it believes it to be a reprisal against their legitimate and peaceful human rights work. The organisation is gravely concerned with the wave of repressions faced by human rights defenders and journalists, as in the recent years Kyrgyzstan’s authorities have refused accreditations to media outlets, passed laws restricting their activities, and filed lawsuits against independent journalists.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Kyrgyzstan to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release the human rights defenders and journalists who have been apprehended by the authorities as a part of the criminal case on "calls for mass civil unrest";
  2. Close the criminal case on "calls for mass civil unrest" as it targets human rights defenders and journalists;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan can carry out their activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, in line with Kyrgyzstan’s international human rights obligations and commitments.