Humans rights violations in Kyrgyzstan in advance of the second ballot of the parliamentary elections


On the eve of the second ballot of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 13 March 2005, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its deepest concern about the deterioration of the situation with democratic freedoms in Kyrgyzstan before the first and between the ballots.

The results of the parliamentary elections are all the more important that in 2006 Akaev’s second presidential term of office will come to an end. Contrary to Article 43, para. 2 of the Kyrgyz Constitution providing that "The same person cannot be elected President for more than two consecutive terms", President Akaev might run for a third term in October 2006.

According to the information received, fearing a repetition of the events that occured in Georgia and the Ukraine, the government was seeking in advance of parliamentary elections, to muzzle the opposition by any means possible. Numerous acts of manipulation, intimidation and harassment of opposition politicians and members of civil society, and pressures on medias were reported to the FIDH (see below). The FIDH was very concerned that this atmosphere was openly hostile to holding of fair and free elections.

The conduct and the results of the first ballot have confirmed these reservations. International observers point out that elections were not equal, not transparent and not fair. The most common violations which were reported to the FIDH are as follows: the presence of militia staff and unknown intimidating individuals inside the polling stations and electorals rolls were falsified or incomplete.

In reaction to the alleged election violations and in prospect of the second-round, opposition activists were gathering and undertaking actions in order to support the opposition candidates who lost the first round. All over the country number of mass protests were organized. For example in Karasu on March 6, 2005, about 600 supporters of the loser candidate Arap Tolonov from the district # 49 blocked the road. Another 500 supporters of T. Alimov blocked the Osh-Aravan road in protestation of the victory of the rector of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek university, Mahammadjan Mamasaidov. On March 4, 2005, 1000 people rallied in front of the regional government building in Jalal-Abad and more than 300 protestors seized the regional government building. The protestors refused to recognize their candidate’s election defeat. They also called President Akaev and Prime Minister Tanaev to resign and demanded for free elections. According to the information received, 10 000 people ( including Roza Otunbaeva, chairman of the « Ata-Jurt » Movement; Usen Sydykok leader of the « Jany Kyrgyzstan » party; students from « Kel-Kel ») gathered in the oblast center of Jalal-Abad.

In response to the numerous protestations, the governemnt attempted to strengthen the lockingof the opposition and the infringement of the civil society. Acts of harassment and intimidation increased. The Electoral code provides that candidates have the right to campaign until March 13th, the day of the second ballot. However, in the #1 University district where President Akaev’s daughter is running, opposition candidates were prevented by unknown individuals to distribute their brochures. More concerning is however the explosion of the Rosa Otunbaeva’s flat (chairman of the « Ata-Jurt » Movement) in Bishkek on March 3, 2005. At 5 a.m, people threw a bomb to the balcony of her appartment. Nobody was injured.

Background information

Exclusion of opposition candidates

The official register of candidates standing in the first ballot for the position of deputy was opened on 21 December 2004. However, Article 56, para. 1 of the Kyrgyz Constitution which states that "a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, who has attained the age of 25 and has permanently resided in the Republic for no less than 5 years before the election, may be elected a Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Jogorku Kenesh or a Deputy of the People’s Representatives of the Jogorku Kenesh.", and Article 69, para. 1 of the Electoral Code of the Kyrgyz Republic establish a residency requirement of five years for the eligibility of parliamentary candidates. This provision unreasonably restricts the right of political participation. On this legal basis, the registration of opposition candidates, who have served in the Kyrgyz Ambassies abroad were refused by electoral commissions.

Roza Otunbaeva is the leader of the political movement "Ata-Jurt" (Fatherland). She was standing for election in the same district than the President’s daughter, Bermet Akaeva. She had served between 1997 and 2002 as Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic in United Kingdom and from May 2002 to September 2004, as deputy chair of the UN General Secretary in Georgia. Otunbaeva argued that she remained a registered resident of the Kyrgyz Republic even while working abroad. But the Lenin District Court dismissed her recourse to cancel the decision of the electoral commission and her appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected on the January 18, 2005. Medetkan Sherimkulov is at present time Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Turkey. Usen Sydykov is a leading member of the "People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan", former vice-Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, former Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine, he had served as representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to CIS countries in Moscow during 2001-2002. Bolot Chamchiev is a film director and the former vice general - Consul of Kyrgyzstan in the United Arabic Emirates. He is a member of the "People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan". Abylov Mambetjunus had served as Minister of Construction and as Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Malaysia. At present, he is the leader of the " Democratic Party".
On February 21, 2005, the pro-governmental newspaper « Vecherny Bishkek » published that these ex-ambassadors are being deprived of their diplomatic rank.
On February 21 and 22, 2005, a number of citizens demonstrated in numerous Kyrgyz cities like for example on the Biskek -Torugart highway in Kochkor region in support of Akylbek Japarov and Beishenbek Bolotbekov on February 22, 2005; in Karajygach village of Aksy region , In Jalal - Abad oblast, to require the respect of the right for opposition politicians to take part in public life and to be elected. But their peaceful assemblies were persecuted by the police forces.

Restrictions on media freedom

In the lead up to the elections, the attempts of the government to silence the opposition media are persisting. Severe censorship prevents the opposition from providing information on its policy platforms to the public and reduces the possibility of the public making an informed choice about the candidates.

At the beginning of the year 2005, numerous examples of governmental attempts to prevent the publication by opposition-affiliated newspapers critical of the government were reported to the FIDH. The media have been frequently targeted for their political views and accused of fabricated charges.

Nowadays, a number of Kyrgyz opposition medias are engulfed in lawsuits. For example, on January 31, 2005, the independent newspaper "Jany ordo" was condemned to pay a fine of 30 000 soms (approximately 700 $) to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Bakirdin Subanbekov .

Finally,the freeze by the government of the Center for Mass Media’s activities, which prints about 60 local and regional newspapers (pro-governmental as well as opposition ones) raises also concern. On February 22, 2005, the electricity of the printing plant was cut off, and the Center was therefore, on the eve of elections, prevented from undertaking its activities. The American Embassy, as a donor and a partner of the printing plant provided an emergency generator but also called the governement to repair electricity.


Once again, the weekly independent newspaper "MSN" is under threat of adverse government action. On February 16, 2005, the government newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek", which belongs to the President Akaev’s daughter, Bremet Akaeva, commenced proceedings for libel against MSN and a number of its journalists, seeking damages from MSN of 5 millions soms and from a number of its journalists of 200 000 soms, because of the information published by MSN alleging that « Vecherny Bishkek » is controlled financially by Akaev’s son-in-law.. In the same time, chief editor of "Vecherny Bishkek" lodged a second complaint against MSN and its editor, Rina Prijivoit, seeking damages from MSN of 2 millions soms and 100 000 soms from R. Prijivoit. The requirement to pay damages in the sum claimed could lead the independent newspaper to announce its closure because of bankruptcy. Furthermore, the newspapers "MSN" and "Respublica" and their chief editors, Alexander Kim and Zamira Sydykova respectively, have been threatened by a criminal inquiry allegedly initiated by the Prime Minister, Nikolai Tanaev. Tanaev is pursuing them for publishing an information that he organized a secret meeting on the subject "How to eradicate the Opposition?".

Moreover, on February 18, 2005, the President Akaev declared to the pro-governmental newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" that he intends to bring a libel against "MSN" newspaper. According to President Akaev, the independent newspaper has led "a campaign of defamation" against him and his family. He offered to withdraw the pursuit if MSN publishes a retraction.

Additionally, Kyrgyz government regularly raised the specter of terrorism by making a dangerous link between opposition newspapers and extremists threats to the state. On February 17, 2005, President Akaev described the activities of the newspaper "MSN" as "informational terrorism".

For many years, the Akaev’s government has controlled most of the television stations. The independent television station "Pyramida-TV" has been taken over by the government at the beginning of the year 2005.

On February 25, 2005, the website of the student opposition movement "Kel-Kel" has been blocked and its name has been usurped by a pro-governmental clone group. The FIDH was also informed that, on February 22, 2005, two independent websites, "" and "" have been subject to a campaign of destabilization. A number of american and european Internet users received two spam messages sent by and The first e-mail message contained an appeal to register on the website with a promise to obtain "lifetime access to the hidden part of our forum with child porno pics". The second e-mail message spoofed sent by contained a message about erotic DVDs promised to be delivered worldwide. On February 23, 2005, both websites denounced this disinformation. Moreover, the relatives of Ulan Melisbek ( the owner of the domain of the both websites « » and « ») are regularly exposed to threats. Ulan Melisbek is living in the United States, while his family is still living in Kyrgyzstan. On February 25, 2005, his brother, Rolan Meliskek was subject to threats expressed by unknown people by telephone at home at 3 a.m. Moreover, his sister, Aida Melisbek was prevented to leave Kyrgyzstan for Kazakhstan where she is studying. She had to secretely pass the border.

Finally, government also attempts to neutralize opposition radios. For example, on February 24, 2005, the authorities shut down VHF transmitter of radio "Azattyk" (the Central Asia service of the "Radio Liberty", broadcasting from Germany in the kyrgyz language) under the pretext that this radio blackout is due to the announcement of tender for these frequencies.

Intimidation and harassment of opposition politicians and civil society activists

Civil society is currently playing a key role in criticizing the government and in denouncing the attacks against the democratic principles. In response of the acts of intimidation and harassment against NGO leaders and opposition politicians are increasing.

The acts of intimidation effected by the destruction of the personal property of opposition political and civil leaders are reported. For example, on the night of January 9, 2005, unknown individuals vandalized the homes of the member of Parliament, Azimbek Beknazarov and of number of civil society activists. The vandals painted dollars signs on the side of the homes of Tolekan Ismailova, head of the NGO "Civil society against Corruption", Natalia Ablova, Director of the "Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law", and Zamira Sydykova, editor of the Kyrgyzstan’s opposition weekly "Respublica". These dollars signs were a reference to Western financial aid and suggested that these civil society activists and leading opposition politicians furthered Western interests in return for financial compensation.

Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR)

Furthermore, proceedings and harassment against the KCHR, member organization of the FIDH, and its activists are continuing. New acts of harassment against the chairman of the KCHR, Ramazan Dyryldaev, were reported to the FIDH at the beginning of February, 2005. According to the information received, on February 2, 2005, about ten policemen went to the building where Dyryldaev used to live until 2003. The policemen claimed that they were ordered to arrest him due to his alleged plundering of financial resources amounting to over 400 000 US dollars. The current dwellers said that they had bought the flat two years ago through an attorney mandated by Mr Dyryldaev but that they didn’t know where he is currently living.
Also relevant are the attempts of the pro-governmental newspapers to damage the reputation of a number of opposition civil activists and, in that way, reduce their popularity rating. For example, on February 1, 2005, the pro-government newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" published an article accusing Ramazan Dyryldaev, Chairman of the "Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights" (KCHR) of criticizing against Akaev’s government in order to receive money from Western funds. On February 7, 2005, the same newspaper published a second article headed "Yellow is the colour of treason and green of its price" directly connected with the Dyryldaev’s public statements accusing the government of falsifying the registration of political parties. On the February 4, 2005, this newspaper published an article headed " In the style of scream or the actress from the NGO" directly targeting Tolekan Ismailova, chairman of the NGO "Civil Society Rights against Corruption".

Restrictions on the right of assembly

In Kyrgyzstan, the right of assembly is a constitutional right under Article 16 of the Kyrgyz Constitution which provides that citizens have the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to conduct rallies and demonstrations. In a decision of October 2004, the Constitutional Court ruled that a requirement of prior notification for demonstrations is in accordance with the Constitution, but that a requirement of prior governmental permission would be unconstitutional. Therefore, the Court ruled that the existing law on public assemblies must be replaced with one that is in compliance with the Constitution.

A new draft law on "Rights of the citizens of freedom of assembly, without weapon, and the right to conduct meetings and demonstrations" was proposed by the government on November 23, 2004. This draft may represent a serious attack against the freedom of assembly by providing unreasonable restrictions on this right. Of the provisions of this law, the most concerning is the amendment which requires a prior written notification to the local government authorities at least nine days in advance. Moreover, an another provision defines that the public gatherings that are "adjacent to" the residences of the President and Prime Minister, prisons and court buildings are forbidden. Finally, demonstrations are also not be allowed after 11:00 pm

Moreover, on January 13, 2005, the Bishkek city administration adopted a decree requiring organizers of public gatherings to "notify" the city administration in order to obtain permission to arrange rallies. A number of opposition leaders never obtained the permission.

For example, in January 2005, the members of the "People’s movement of Kyrgyzstan" were accused of holding non-authorized rallies. Each was ordered to pay a fine of between 500 and 1000 soms.

This decree has precipitated an increase in the use of force to stop demonstrations. Many other examples were reported to the FIDH. On February 5, 2005, a coalition of associations called "Citizen Solidarity for Fair Elections " arranged a meeting in Bishkek which gathered 350 activists. It is likely that more activists would have attended but the police prevented the entry of further attendees on the pretext that the meeting would be non-authorized. But the coalition had notified this meeting to the administration on January 25, 2005. Consequently, the demonstration which had been initially planned to be held at the "Victory place" took place closeby, in a small square. The Administration of the Internal Affairs of Bishkek filed a complaint at the Sverdlovki District Court against the organizers, the"Citizen Solidarity for Fair Elections" representative, Edil Baisalov and Alisher Mamsaliev, the leader of the student youth movement "Kel-kel". E. Baisalov was ordered to pay a fine of 500 soms and A. Mamsaliev was arrested on basis of falsified evidences for contravening the law-in-force about meeting and for violating the rights and interests of the other citizens.
Further, on the 5 February 2005, a civil forum called "Deficit of democracy: for what reason?" organized by the "Civil Society against Corruption" headed by T. Ismailova and by the "Foundation for Developing Mass Media and Protection of Journalists’ Rights" headed by Alisher Toksonbaev , was supposed to take place at a library in Osh. At the forum, the political situation in the country and the unfolding of free and fair elections were to be discussed. But the local partners were constantly threatened. However, in accordance with orders of Osh administration and the national security services, the library refused to open the doors. The participants of the forum were forced to leave the library and went to a café. After a short time, the owner of the café exhorted the participants to leave the place, under pressure from the national security services.

Recent reports have also indicated that participants of rallies in support of the "People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan" have been subject to similar actions. According to numerous reports, the police punctured the tyres of and stole the petrol from the supporters’ vehicles while their owners were participating in a meeting.

Coercion of voters and manipulation of electoral rolls

Recent testimonies suggest furthermore that the new pro-governmental party "Alga Kyrgyzstan" buys the support of voters by providing the poor citizens with food and by renovating the damaged neighbourhoods. Moreover, to get more votes during the elections, the party would use its funds to obtain the vote of individuals (between 50 and 100 soms per person). Many credible reports have suggested that a number of students at Kyrgyz universities have been compelled to support Bermet Akaeva, President Akaev’s daughter. After he had received statements about the registration of non-residents students, the Ombudman’s office of the Kyrgyz Republic started to investigate in the dormitories in Bishkek. But journalists of the "Koort-TV" headed by Adil Toigonbaev, Bermet Akaeva’s husband, prevented them to conduct this investigation confidentially. The Ombudsman’ s office was constrained to stop their inspection of dormitories.

It appears that the electoral rolls may have been falsified. In this respect, the Central Election Commission headed by Sulaiman Imambaev has refused to publish the electoral register in violation of Article 22 of the Election Code providing that the public is entitled to have access to the electoral roll. This lack of transparency opens the possibility of the administration falsifying the roll. For example, in the First District where the President Akaev’s daughter, Bermet Akaeva is standing for election, a number of students who are not resident in this District have been nevertheless registered. Similarly, in the Kemincki District where President Akaev’s son, Aidar Akaev is standing for election, he gave free construction materials to the population.

Mentioned cases reported to the FIDH demonstrate that the Kyrgyz Republic is failing to fulfil its human rights obligations in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) acceded by Kyrgyzstan in 1994 and the OSCE commitments, and in particular:

 articles 19, 21 and 25 of the ICCPR which enact respectively the rights of expression, peaceful assembly and equal opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs.

 the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris, ratified in the framework of the OSCE. The FIDH recalls that the International Election Observation Mission of the OSCE noted in its statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions from February 28, 2005 that « while more competitive than previous elections, the parliamentary elections in the Kyrgyz Republic fall short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections in a number of important areas »

In this context, the FIDH urges the Kyrgyz Republic authorities to stop persecuting political opposition and to create the necessary conditions to fair parliamentary elections. The FIDH also calls the Kyrgyz authorities not to prevent independent national and international observers to monitor the second ballot of the electoral process.

The FIDH calls the highest Kyrgyz authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the freedom of expression and of media.

The FIDH particularly urges the Kyrgyz Republic to ensure the freedom of peaceful assembly and to immediately put an end to any kind of pressure and harassment against the human rights defenders.

Finally, the FIDH underlines that the next months are going to constitute a key-period for Kyrgyzstan and that the Kyrgyz authorities should seize the second ballot of the parliamentary election as an opportunity to ensure measures to increase the democratic potential prospect of the the presidential election scheduled in October 2006.

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