29 November 2012

Kyrgyzstan: Dismissal of the complaint lodged by Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kyrgyzstan.

New information:

The Observatory was informed by reliable sources of the decision of the Inter-district Court of Bishkek to dismiss the complaint lodged by Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova, Director of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Citizens Against Corruption” (CAC) and Director of the human rights film festival Bir Duyno - Kyrgyzstan (One World – Kyrgyzstan). The complaint was aimed to contest the legal conditions in which Ms. Ismailova was served a warning on September 28, 2012. Such warning was related to the ban of the screening of the human rights documentary “I am Gay and Muslim”, which was initially scheduled to be screened at the festival on the same day (see background information).

According to the information received, on November 27, 2012, the Inter-district Court of Bishkek declared that the complaint of Mrs. Ismailova had no grounds for prosecution, thus denying the legitimacy of her request. Mrs. Ismailova declared that she will appeal this decision.

The Observatory further recalls that the HRC CAC also filed an appeal to overturn another court decision to ban the screening of the film (see background information). The appeal hearing was scheduled for December 5, 2012 before the Bishkek City Court.

The Observatory therefore reiterates its call on the Kyrgyz authorities to shed the light on the conditions in which this ban was served and to ensure that the international fair trial standards are fully respected during the next hearing in the cases of Mrs. Ismailova’s and of HRC CAC, as guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Kyrgyzstan is a State party.

Background information:

On September 28, 2012, around 11 am, four representatives of the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) presented themselves at the HRC CAC offices. One of them, Mr. N. Soodanbekov, served a warning to Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova, alleging that the documentary “I am Gay and Muslim”, scheduled on the same day on the occasion of the human rights film festival Bir Duyno – Kyrgyzstan (One World – Kyrgyzstan) [1], was considered as encouraging “inter-religious hatred”. The warning read as follows: “according to the decision by the State Commission of Religious Affairs, based on point 6.1 of Article 1 of the ’Law on Combating Extremist Activity’, the film is considered ’extremist’ and its diffusion and broadcasting within the territory of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan might encourage religious hatred and set the scene for mass disorder”.

As the SCNC official who served this warning did not have the authority to do so, and as the official procedure was not followed, Mrs. Ismailova subsequently lodged a complaint. On October 31, 2012, the first hearing was held before the Bishkek Inter-district Court, allowing Mrs. Ismailova and HRC CAC’s lawyer to give all the details of the legal violations mentioned above. The Chairperson of the Court decided to schedule the next hearing on November 15, 2012, and finally postponed it to November 27, 2012.

On the day this warning was served to Mrs. Ismailova, the Pervomaysky District Court of Bishkek reportedly banned the film on the whole Kyrgyz territory, thus preventing its broadcast in any circumstances. This order followed a complaint lodged by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, which requested that the film be recognised as “extremist, inciting religious hatred and aimed at dishonouring Muslims”. As the decision of the court came into force immediately, the festival’s organisers could not contest the ruling before the scheduled screening time. However, the HRC CAC subsequently filed an appeal to overturn the court’s decision. The Bishkek City Court scheduled the appeal hearing on December 5, 2012.

In addition, in that context Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova has been targeted by a smear campaign depicting her as spreading propaganda for homosexuality and destructing Kyrgyz values in relation with the film “I am Gay and Muslim”. Such accusations were spread on a TV programme broadcast on October 14, 2012, as well as in a Kyrgyz newspaper.

In addition, on September 27, 2012, the festival organisers, including Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova and other members of HRC CAC, had received phone calls and text messages threatening them with physical assault. The director of the cinema “Manas”, where the film was to be shown, also received threats that the building would be burnt down if the screening was not cancelled.

Finally, on October 8, 2012, HRC CAC received a letter from their web hosting company warning the human rights NGO that its website might be shut down if it contained references or links to the said documentary.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Kyrgyzstan, urging them to:

i. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova, as well as against all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Tolekan Ismailova as well as of all members of HRC CAC and human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”,
- and its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” ;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

Addresses:

· Mr. Almazbek Atambaev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Chuy Ave, 205, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Tel: +996 312 63 91 17, Fax: + 996312626191

· Mr. Chamil Atahanov, Minister of Internal Affairs, Frunze st. 469, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tel: 0996 312 66 24 50, Fax: + 996312682044 / + 996312623853, Email: pressa226@mvd.kg

· Ms. Aida Salyanova, General Prosecutor of KGZ, Fax: +996312661734

· Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue Maunoir 26 / Rue du Lac 4-6, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland, Email: kyrgyzmission@bluewin.ch, Fax: +41 22 707.92.21

· State Committee of National Security, Erkindik blvd 70, Bishkek 720040, Kyrgyzstan, tel: (0 312) 66-04-75, fax: (0 312) 66-00-24

· Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Brussels, 47 rue de l’Abbaye, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 18 68 / + 32 2 640 38 83, Fax: + 32 2 640 01 31, Email: aitmatov@infonie.be

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Kyrgyzstan in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, November 29, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Last Update 29 November 2012
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Footnotes

[1The documentary “I am Gay and Muslim” deals with the issue of gay rights in the Islamic world, taking the example of Moroccan young men who speak about their sexual orientation and their religious background.

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