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Kyrgyzstan: International conference on Political Stabilisation fails to address human rights issues
On the second day of his mission to Kyrgyzstan Andrew Anderson attended a conference on Political Stabilisation in the Kyrgyz Republic - the usual weak combination of "platitudes and positive thinking"
The highlight of of our second day in Bishkek was having lunch with two of the most indefatigable of Kyrgyz human rights defenders, Aziza Abdirasulova and Tolekan Ismailova. They had both faced death threats and a media defamation campaign because they spoke out about the bloody inter-ethnic violence of the summer. They were accused of being traitors because they highlighted the killings of ethnic Uzbeks.
We were attending a conference titled “Political Stabilisation in the Kyrgyz Republic” which brought together political leaders, diplomats, academics and civil society representatives in a plush Western hotel. If political stability could be achieved by platitudes and positive thinking about the oft-pronounced success of the electoral process then it had been a productive morning.
In the afternoon session Aziza, Tolekan and other human rights defenders were finally given the opportunity to speak of the ongoing problems of arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trials and land seizures in the South of the country.
Unfortunately many of the senior political figures had left by then, but a representative of the Ministry of the Interior responded in defence of the authorities. He reminded us that Lenin had said that we “don't just have to take power, we need to maintain it,” and that Deng Xiaoping had said “that it does not matter which kind of cat you have so long as it catches mice.” This together with the statement of an international diplomat that “multilateral diplomacy can be exciting and disappointing at the same time” brought the conference to a somewhat bizarre conclusion.