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Author­it­ies in Kyrgyz­stan must stop the deten­tions of crit­ics, civil act­iv­ists and mem­bers of the com­mit­tee to pro­tect the Kem­pira­bad reser­voir, cease the searches of homes and seizures of prop­erty, and imme­di­ately release every­one arres­ted in con­nec­tion to the cri­ti­cism of the author­it­ies, includ­ing the mem­bers of that com­mit­tee who were taken into cus­tody dur­ing morn­ing raids on Octo­ber 23 and in the days that followed.

Kamchy­bek Tashiev, the head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Com­mit­tee for Nation­al Secur­ity, which also includes the bor­der guard ser­vice, announced on Octo­ber 10 that that an agree­ment in nego­ti­ations with Uzbek­istan on the bor­der demarc­a­tion would see Kyrgyz­stan receive more than 18,000 hec­tares of land added to the Osh and Jalal-Abad Provinces, but as part of con­ces­sions the Kem­pira­bad reser­voir would become part of Uzbek ter­rit­ory. Kyrgyz Pres­id­ent Sadyr Jap­arov later said that use and main­ten­ance of the reser­voir would be “50–50” and the two coun­tries would man­age the reser­voir togeth­er. How­ever, the terms of the agree­ment between Uzbek­istan and Kyrgyz­stan was kept secret with author­it­ies rush­ing the approv­al pro­cesses behind closed doors and away from the public. 

Many Kyrgyz res­id­ents of the area where the Kem­pira­bad reser­voir is loc­ated did not agree with the terms of the deal author­it­ies reached with Uzbek­istan. On Octo­ber 15, some 1,000 people gathered for a kur­ul­tai in the Uzgen dis­trict of Osh Oblast and denounced the plan to give the reser­voir to Uzbek­istan. The kur­ul­tai called for the estab­lish­ment of a com­mit­tee to pro­tect the Kem­pira­bad reser­voir. On Octo­ber 21, res­id­ents of sev­er­al vil­lages in the area of the reser­voir marched in protest at the agree­ment demand­ing the reser­voir not be giv­en to Uzbekistan.

Former mem­ber of par­lia­ment Ravshan Jey­en­bekov pub­lished a post on his Face­book page on Octo­ber 22 that the Com­mit­tee on pro­tec­tion of Kem­pir Abad has been formed. The list of com­mit­tee mem­bers was pub­lished by Kloop. With­in 24 hours of announce­ment about cre­ation of the Com­mit­tee author­it­ies opened a crim­in­al case, con­duc­ted unpre­ced­en­ted mass raids and arrests detain­ing 22 civil soci­ety and polit­ic­al activists.

Pres­id­ent Jap­arov said on an Octo­ber 22 inter­view that “pro­vocateurs” were behind the demon­stra­tions against the government’s bor­der deal  with Uzbek­istan and that pro­test­ers were paid by these unnamed pro­vocateurs to pub­licly oppose the agree­ment. Jap­arov also con­nec­ted the protests with plans to “destabil­ize the situ­ation in the coun­try” and vowed author­it­ies would not per­mit that to happen.

On the morn­ing of Octo­ber 23, secur­ity forces in Bishkek were urgently assembled in large num­bers, reportedly lead­ing some mem­bers of the      force to believe that a con­flict had broken out. Instead, they were sent to stage raids on more than 20 homes in the Bishkek area where mem­bers of the com­mit­tee to pro­tect the Kem­pira­bad reser­voir and oth­er crit­ics resided. The raids included seiz­ing com­puters and mobile phones, some of which belonged to the chil­dren of those being detained.

Among more than two dozen detained are:

Asya Sasyk­bayeva, 71-year-old founder and ex dir­ect­or of human rights cen­ter Inter­bilim, ex speak­er of parliament

Rita Karasartova, Human Rights Defend­er, head of NGO Insti­tute of Civic Analysis,

Klara Sooronku­lova, Human rights defend­er, head of NGO Shkola Prava, ex judge of Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court

Gul­nara Jura­baeva, ex Pro­ject Coordin­at­or of Inter­na­tion­al human rights Cen­ter “Inter­bilim”, Ex Deputy Chair­man of Cent­ral Com­mis­sion for Elec­tions & Referendums

Per­iz­at Sur­an­ova, mem­ber of the Women’s Demo­crat­ic Net­work of Kyrgyzstan

Aydan­bek Akmatov, journ­al­ist, внештатный корреспондент Азаттык 1999–2017

Uluk­bek Mamatayev, Civil soci­ety activist

Jen­ish Mol­dok­matov, Civil soci­ety activist

Ali Shab­dan, Civil soci­ety activist

Nur­lan Asan­bekov, Civil soci­ety activist

Taalay Mademinov, Civil soci­ety activist,

Erlan Bek­choro, Civil soci­ety activist

Atai Beishen­bek, Civil soci­ety activist

Chyngyz Kap­arov, Civil soci­ety activist

Talant Eshaliev, Civil soci­ety activist

Aibek Busur­manku­lov, Civil soci­ety activist

Mar­at Bayazov, Civil soci­ety activist

Orozaim Narmatova, Civil soci­ety activist

Ilgiz Shamen­ov, Civil soci­ety activist

The Min­istry of the Interi­or said it is invest­ig­at­ing wheth­er those detained had viol­ated Art­icle 36–278 of Kyrgyzstan’s Crim­in­al Code — plan­ning to organ­ize mass unrest. They could face up to 10 years in jail.

Well-known rights act­iv­ist Rita Karasartova said police in plain clothes did not imme­di­ately identi­fy them­selves or show any proof they were police when they came to her door, and when she refused to let them enter, they forced their way into her home. A video of Karasartova try­ing to pre­vent police from enter­ing her flat without identi­fy­ing them­selves and present­ing a war­rant was pos­ted on Kyrgyz media out­lets. Karasartova was taken to the Sverd­lovsk police sta­tion. Video showed Karasartova being brought to the Per­vomai region­al court on the even­ing of Octo­ber 24.

Act­iv­ist Ali Shab­dan was detained and brought to the Per­vomai police sta­tion. In a video of an argu­ment between Shab­dan and one of the police­men present the police sta­tion, the police­man is heard threat­en­ing Shab­dan with death, say­ing, “You are going to die now boy. You will fall and not get back up.”

By ini­ti­at­ing these crim­in­al cases and arrests against its crit­ics Kyrgyz author­it­ies viol­ated fun­da­ment­al human rights norms stip­u­lated in the Uni­ver­sal Declar­a­tion of Human Rights, the Inter­na­tion­al Cov­en­ant on Civil and Polit­ic­al Rights, the Kyrgyz Con­sti­tu­tion, such as right to liberty, right to invi­ol­ab­il­ity of the home, free­dom of asso­ci­ation, right to free speech and free expres­sion, right to phys­ic­al integ­rity, right to privacy.

Des­pite numer­ous egre­gious viol­a­tions of the Code of Crim­in­al Pro­ced­ure, dur­ing a series of tri­als that ran through­out the night on Octo­ber 24–25, a Kyrgyz dis­trict court ordered 2 months deten­tion for all of the detained civil soci­ety lead­ers and politi­cians with 1 forced into house arrest due to heart attack in court.

We con­demn the raids and deten­tions in Bishkek car­ried out with gross pro­ced­ur­al viol­a­tions and urge the Kyrgyz author­it­ies to drop all charges imme­di­ately, free those in cus­tody without delay and estab­lish a dia­logue with its soci­ety. Giv­en the import­ance of bor­der demarc­a­tion and access to water issues we remind the Kyrgyz gov­ern­ment that account­ab­il­ity and trans­par­ency are its duties before the society.мRights to access the inform­a­tion, to protest and to express crit­ic­al opin­ion are rights pro­tec­ted by the Kyrgyz con­sti­tu­tion and inter­na­tion­al treat­ies to which Kyrgyz Repub­lic is a party.