KYRGYZSTAN: searches and confiscations in Bir Duino offices and in the homes of two prominent lawyers

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory was informed by reliable sources about the search undertaken in the offices of the Osh chapter of Bir Duino and at the place of residence of two prominent human rights lawyers, which resulted in the confiscation of a number of documents on human rights issues.

KGZ 001 / 0315 / OBS 025
Judicial harassment / Search
/ Confiscation of material
March 27, 2015

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kyrgyzstan.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on March 27, 2015 at 4.20 pm, officers from the Osh Office of the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) came into the premises of the Osh office of Bir Duino, on the basis of a court decision issued on March 26 by the judge of the Osh City Court, Mr. K. M. Matisakov, under Article 13 of the Penal Code (“countering extremism activity by confiscating forbidden material of religious character”).

On that occasion, the officers from the SCNS seized computers, material related to criminal cases and USB drives containing working documents on human rights issues. Four staff members were in the Bir Duino office at that moment of the facts. Subsequently, a number of colleagues, partners, human rights lawyers, as well as a representative of the Ombudsman office of the Osh region and a member of Parliament, Ms. Alnura Altinaeva, came on the spot, but were denied access to the premises.

SCNS officers also searched and seized material at the place of residence of two high profile lawyers, Mr. Valerian Vakhitov and Mr. Khusanbay Saliev, both members of the Osh office of Bir Duino, who have been working on the violations committed during the Osh events in June 2010, and notably on the case of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov, a well-known ethnic Uzbek defender and Director of the human rights organisation “Vozdukh” (Air), who was found guilty of killing a policeman during violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan, following an unfair and politically motivated trial. During those searches, books and USB drives were notably seized.

The Observatory firmly denounces the above-mentioned searches and confiscations, which were carried out on the basis of an illegal judicial decision. Article 13 of the Criminal Code indeed provides for a clear procedure before material of so-called “extremist” character can be seized: the Prosecutor must send a request to the judge, who must in turn convey the request to the Ministry of Justice. If the Ministry of Justice considers that the material in question can have an “extremist” character, it must publish the list of the documents in question, before the latter can be seized. In the present case, non of these procedures were respected. The Observatory is all the more concerned that the seizure of material at the place of residence of Messrs. Vakhitov and Saliev violates another piece of Kyrgyz legislation guaranteeing the immunity of professional documents of lawyers.

Such acts of harassment took place as Kyrgyz President Atambaev is achieving a trip in Europe, where he met notably with European Union representatives and with French President François Hollande1.

The Observatory recalls finally that it is not the first time that Bir Duino and its representatives are facing harassment. In December 2013, unknown perpetrators had broken into the Biskek office of Bir Duino in Bishkek and stolen some money as well as the video surveillance camera and five laptops that contained a lot of key data of the organisation. Back in July 2013, unknown perpetrators had already broken into Bir Duino second Bishkek office on Juvenal Justice, and stolen two computers and data on human rights issues2. Bir Duino staff members and Director, Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, have also been judicially harassed and slandered on several occasions3.

The Observatory calls on the authorities to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Valerian Vakhitov and Khusanbay Saliev as well as against all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, and to conform in all circumstances with the Kyrgyz Constitution as well as with international obligations of Kyrgyzstan, including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Actions requested :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Valerian Vakhitov and Khusanbay Saliev and of all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally return the confiscated equipment and material to their owners, and notably to Messrs. Valerian Vakhitov and Khusanbay Saliev;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
 its Article 1, which provides 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 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international 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. Melis Turganbayev, Minister of Internal Affairs, Frunze st. 469, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tel: 0996 312 66 24 50, Fax: + 996312682044 / + 996312623853, email:
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:, 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:

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

Paris-Geneva, March 27, 2015

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.

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