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Kyrgyzstan: Mass arrests of Tolekan Ismailova and other human rights defenders at peaceful protests.
Front Line is deeply concerned following the arrest, on 18 December 2007, of human rights defender Tolekan Ismailova, Director of the human rights centre 'Citizens against Corruption', and 18 other human rights activists, including Mirsuljan Namazaliev and Jibek Ismailova of the Center for Human Rights “Kylym Shamy”,during a protest in the Erkindik, the Old Square of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Front Line is also worried for the safety of human rights defenders Toktaim Umetalieva, head of the Association of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and non-commercial organisations (NCOs), Nazgul Turdubekova, the Youth Human Rights Group, and Maxim Kuleshov, the leader of the NGO, 'World, Light, Culture' who, along with Tolekan Ismailova, were detained and beaten at another peaceful protest on 20 December, 2007.
Further InformationPosted 21/12/2007 On 18 December 2007, Tolekan Ismailova was observing a peaceful demonstration organised by several human rights defenders and youth organisations protesting against unfair electoral practices on the part of the Kyrgyz government in the recent parliamentary elections, which took place on 16 December 2007. The protest, which took place as part of a campaign entitled 'I don't believe', was staged near the Jogorku Kenesh parliamentary building.
The protesters were arrested by authorities and taken to Pervomay District Militia Office, where they were denied access to lawyers. The lawyers who were finally allowed to visit those arrested were not eligible to defend them in court; and the lawyers who were legally eligible to defend them were not given access.
The people arrested at the protest were charged under Article 392 of the Code of Administrative Responsibility (violation of established order of organization and holding assemblies, meetings, street processions, demonstrations), released and ordered to appear in court on Friday, 21 December 2007. On Thursday 20 December 2007 another peaceful demonstration was staged by activists from several youth movements in Bishkek's Old Square. On this occasion, 31 activists were arrested by police. Violence was allegedly used by police during the arrests and several people, including Maxim Kuleshov, were injured after being beaten during their arrest.
According to reports, Maxim Kuleshov will be detained for five days and the other participants in the demonstration will be detained in isolation at a temporary detention centre of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Bishkek Government. The authorities attempted to have the cases of all those arrested on 18 and 20 December heard in camera at the Department of Internal Affairs. The detainees requested that normal procedure be followed and that the cases be heard in the District Court, however the trials took place in camera on the evening of 20 December. The defendants were not allowed enough time to organise legal representation and most were each sentenced to between five and seven days in prison for their part in the peaceful demonstration.
Front Line believes that the arrests of all those detained on 18 and 20 December 2007 are directly related to their work in defence of human rights and fears that these recent events may form part of an ongoing campaign against human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan