Kyrgyzstan: Renewed acts of harassment targeting human rights defenders and NGOs in Kyrgyzstan

17/03/2014
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory was informed by reliable sources about renewed acts of harassment targeting human rights defenders and NGOs in Kyrgyzstan, in particular those advocating for the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals (LGBT).

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

KGZ 002 / 0314 / OBS 020
Harassment / Threats
Kyrgyzstan
March 17, 2014

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, in March 2014, Mr. Ilya Lukash, an ethnic-Ukrainian known for his active participation in the defence of the human rights, was compelled to leave Kyrgyzstan, following a series of threats and beatings sustained in December 2013 by unknown individuals. Moreover, on February 27, 2014, during an “action against homosexual propaganda”, members of the youth nationalist movement “Kalis” had burned his portrait in front of the Embassy of the United States in Bishkek, calling him a ““gay activist” who was supposedly attempting to foment a Ukraine-style revolution in the country”.

The Observatory was also informed that on March 12, 2014, about 150 activists of the “Kalis” movement demonstrated in front of the Parliament in Bishkek to request that the parliamentarians pass the draft law on so-called “foreign agents”, which forbids the financing of NGOs working on LGBT rights and ban so-called “homosexual propaganda” in Kyrgyzstan.

The Observatory is seriously concerned about the fact that harassment towards LGBT activists is visibly encouraged by members of Parliament. Following the above-mentioned demonstration, the Vice-Speaker of Parliament Torobay Zulpukarov indeed met with the leader of the “Kalis” movement, Mr. Zhenish Moldokmatov, to inform him that a bill currently being tabled in Parliament was aiming at bringing changes and additions in certain legislative acts in order to forbid so-called “homosexual propaganda”. The latter reportedly stated on that occasion that the absence of such legislation was the cause of “increased quantity of homosexuals” likely to spread “immorality” in the future.

On the same day, a member of the parliamentary group “Ata Meken” Mr. Zhomart Saparbaev commented the demonstration with the agency AKIpress, and showed his hostility towards homosexuals and same-sex marriage.

The Observatory is all the more concerned as on January 30, 2014, Acting Grand Mufti Maksat Hajji Toktomushev reportedly issued a fatwa against same sex relations, saying the government should be wary of “public organisations that disseminate social discord”.

The Observatory recalls that NGOs in Kyrgyzstan are under constant threats and harassment because of their human rights activities in support of LGBT rights, but also because of their criticism of the government and their denunciations of acts of torture and ill-treatment in prisons.

In particular, the Human Rights Centre “Bir Duino” and its members have been harassed since 2012 in connection with their attempt to show the film “I am Gay and Muslim” during the 6th International Film Festival on Human Rights. Since then, the offices of “Bir Duino” have been burgled twice, i.e. on July 2013 and on December 26, 2013. Alongside, the Head of “Bir Duino” and FIDH Vice President Ms. Tolekan Ismailova as well as her family have faced a series of acts of harassment since the beginning of 2014. All these acts merely aim at sanctioning the human rights activities carried out by “Bir Duino”[1].

The Observatory condemns the repeated attacks and harassment against LGBT rights activities in Kyrgyzstan, and calls upon the Kyrgyz authorities to ensure that all human rights defenders can continue their legitimate work. The Observatory further urges the members of the Kyrgyz Parliament to refrain from passing laws forbidding so-called “homosexual propaganda” and labelling NGOs as so-called “foreign agents”, and rather to promote and protect the full enjoyment of the right to promote human rights.

Actions requested:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the above-mentioned threats and harassment against Mr. Ilya Lukash as well as against Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, her relatives and the premises of the Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino”, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, by refraining from passing the restrictive pieces of legislation mentioned above and by condemning publicly all acts of hostility towards human rights, including LGBT rights, and their defenders;

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, Fax: + 996312626191
· Mr. Abdulda Suranchiev, Minister of Internal Affairs, Frunze st. 469, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Fax: + 996312682044 / + 996312623853, Email: pressa226@mvd.kg
· Ms. Aida Salyanova, General Prosecutor of KGZ, Fax: +996312661734
· State Committee of National Security, Erkindik blvd 70, Bishkek 720040, Kyrgyzstan. Fax: +996 312 66-00-24
· H.E. Ms. Gulnara Iskakova, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue du Lac 4-6, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland, Email: kyrgyzmission@bluewin.ch, Fax: +41 22 707.92.21
· Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Brussels, 47 rue de l’Abbaye, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 640 01 31, Email: aitmatov@infonie.be

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

***
Paris-Geneva, March 17, 2014

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.


[1] For more information, see Observatory Urgent Appeals KGZ 001/1012/100.2 and KGZ 001/0114/OBS 004, respectively issued on December 21, 2012 and on January 20, 2014.

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