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Reports on state-sanctioned violence and suppression of dissent; persecutions and harassment of journalists and media organisations.

The prosecutor demanded 20 years in prison for all Kempirabad detainees.

Mambetjunus Abylov – house arrest – 20 years

Akylbek Aitbaev – house arrest – 20 years

Aidanbek Akmatov – in pre-trial detention center – 20 years

Nurlan Asanbekov – house arrest – 20 years

Marat Bayazov is in a pre-trial detention center – 20 years

Atay Beyshenbek – house arrest – 20 years

Azimbek Beknazarov – in pre-trial detention center – 20 years

Erlan Bekchoroev – house arrest – 20 years

Aibek Buzurmankulov is in a pre-trial detention center – 20 years

Gulnara Dzhurabaeva – house arrest – 20 years

Ravshan Jeenbekov is in a pre-trial detention center  – 20 years

Kubanychbek Kadyrov – house arrest  – 20 years

Rita Karasartova – house arrest  – 20 years

Chingiz Kaparov – house arrest  – 20 years

Taalaybek Mademinov – house arrest  – 20 years

Ulukbek Mamataev – house arrest  – 20 years

Temir Makhmudov is in a pre-trial detention center, detained on February 3  – 20 years

Zhenish Moldokmatov – in pre-trial detention center  – 20 years

Asiya Sasykbaeva – house arrest  – 20 years

Klara Sooronkulova – house arrest  – 20 years

Perizat Suranova – house arrest  – 20 years

Ali Shabdan – house arrest  – 20 years

Ilgiz Shamenov is in a pre-trial detention center  – 20 years

The Kempir-Abad case in Kyrgyzstan centers on the prolonged detention of 27 individuals among whom are civil society activists, journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. They were accused of inciting “mass unrest” following their opposition to the transfer of jurisdiction over the Kempir-Abad dam to Uzbekistan as part of a border demarcation agreement. The activists were apprehended in October 2022, with charges based on manipulated wiretapped conversations. Investigations have been marred by secrecy and procedural irregularities. During this period, criminal cases against three individuals were dropped. Despite international standards advocating for minimal pretrial detention, detainees endured several months in inadequate facilities. Following sustained advocacy and due to deteriorating health conditions, fifteen detainees were subsequently placed under house arrest. However, nine detainees out of the initial twenty-seven remained incarcerated in pretrial detention for almost nineteen months. While confined to their homes, detainees on house arrest remain under continuous surveillance and face various forms of harassment, including intimidation tactics and restrictions on their movement and communication. Despite being outside of detention facilities, they are not free from the oppressive atmosphere that surrounds their cases. 

On April 24, 2024, relatives of the detainees staged a peaceful rally outside the Pervomai district court, demanding a fair and transparent trial. It is noteworthy that throughout the duration of the Kempir-Abad case, a veil of secrecy has cloaked the legal proceedings, shielding them from public scrutiny and accountability. Prior to this, human rights organizations had already urged Kyrgyzstan to fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to which Kyrgyzstan has pledged to uphold the right to a public trial. While this right is subject to certain limitations, the UN Human Rights Committee defines the conditions under which a trial may be closed as “exceptional.” It stresses that unless such circumstances exist, a trial should remain open to ensure transparency and contribute to safeguarding the human right to a fair trial.

During a court session on May 8, detainees publicly disclosed that Keneshbek Duishebaev was forcibly taken to the Pervomaisky District Court, with violence employed during the process. He urgently needed medical attention due to significantly elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, yet he was denied hospitalization. On May 14, Duishebaev was once again forcefully brought to court, in critical condition, unable to move independently or participate in the proceedings. However, Judge Sydykov Marat refused to heed the request from Duishebaev’s attorneys to excuse him from attending the hearings.

Detainees, amidst ongoing investigation procedures faced challenging detention conditions and violations of court proceedings. In June 2023, during the court session, the indictment was read, only for ten of the accused. Nevertheless, the remaining fifteen individuals had their charges left unread, with the prosecution asserting that a general statement sufficed, claiming accusations against one individual applied universally to others. State prosecutor Meder Abdyashev publicly argued to the judge that reading the indictment for each detainee was redundant, deeming it a mere copied document. This acknowledgment effectively admitted to arbitrary and blatant violations of the law in the indictment’s drafting. 

Furthermore, the judge disregarded the provision of Article 324 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which requires individually questioning each defendant about their understanding of the charges, acknowledgment of guilt, and their stance regarding the allegations. Instead, a general question was posed to all present, undermining due process by eliciting a collective response. Additionally, Judge Sydykov ignored pleas regarding some detainees’ limited comprehension of legal proceedings and the necessity for translation of the indictment into a language they understood.

On June 08, 2024 one of the Kempirabad detainees Nurlan Asanbekov attempted to commit an act of self-immolation due to unbearable human rights abuses that he was being subjected to. Nurlan Asanbekov is a construction worker who was repairing Ravshan Jeenbekov’s apartment. He was not engaged in political or civic activism. He is a single parent and has two daughters, one of which has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He lived in a rented apartment with an elderly mother and daughters, and was the only breadwinner in the family. When he was detained, his accounts were frozen and he could not feed his family. Two months ago he had brain surgery and was still recovering. Law enforcement agents forced the head doctor to discharge him. They dragged him to the court, while he was vomiting during the entire trip and was suffering from a strong headache. In 2022 he was detained along with other Kempirabad detainees. In November 2022, Asanbekov, while in custody, went on a hunger strike without water or food and lost 21 kilograms of weight. By a court decision on November 11, 2022, the court released him under house arrest, after which he was taken to the hospital. 

Another Kempirabad detainee Klara Sooronkulova was subjected to a similar inhumane treatment. While in detention she underwent a complicated surgery. However, shortly after the authorities took her out of the hospital and returned her to the detention center, which lacks сonditions of care for post-operative patients.

This sham trial continues and takes place daily, providing no possibility for lawyers of the defendants to work on other cases. Detainees state that the judge has been ordered to issue the guilty verdict by June 15, 2024. 

There have also been verified reports that lawyers of the detainees are subjected to harassment, threats to revoke their licenses and disbarred. Officers of GKNB (State Committee of National Security) are putting pressure on the Ethics Commission of the Bar of the Kyrgyz Republic to revoke the attorney licenses of the KEmpirabad attorneys.

Events surrounding the Kempir-Abad case in Kyrgyzstan reveal a concerning pattern of human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture, procedural irregularities, and disregard for fair trial standards. The prolonged detention of individuals critical of the government, based on questionable charges and flawed legal proceedings, raises serious concerns about the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country.

The failure to adhere to international legal standards, such as the right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture, undermines the credibility of the judicial system and erodes public trust in government institutions. It is imperative for the Kyrgyz authorities to address these issues promptly and ensure that all detainees are afforded their fundamental rights. We call on democratic countries that have adopted Magnitskiy style legislation to sanction those responsible for this clear example of politically motivated persecution of citizens for standing against the rising Kyrgyz authoritarianism.

Human Rights

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