Tag Archives: political rights

Kazakh court sentences activist to prison for Ablyazov links

JUNE 15 2021 (The Bulletin) — A court in Shymkent, southern Kazakhstan, sentenced Nurzhan Mukhammedov, a political activist, to two years of “limited freedom” for his links to the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK). The DVK is linked to Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Paris-based opposition leader who has been accused of stealing billions from a Kazakh bank.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Tajik court imprisons son of opposition leader

MARCH 1 2021 (The Bulletin) — A court in Tajikistan sentenced Shaikhmuslihiddin Rizoev, son of imprisoned opposition leader Mahmurod Odinaev, to six years in prison for hooliganism and rape, the US-funded RFE/RL reported.  Supporters of Rizoev have said that his sentence is being used to pressure his father and that he was attacked by unknown men and was defending himself during the alleged fight. His trial was held in secret.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Police in Almaty detain demonstrators

FEB. 28 2021  (The Bulletin) — Police in Almaty detained dozens of protesters who had been calling for the release of political prisoners in the largest anti-government demonstrations in Kazakhstan this year. In what has become fairly standard practice in Kazakhstan, police stopped protesters gathering in city centre squares and parks and detained leaders en route to the meetings. Activists have said that the right to protest barely exists in Kazakhstan.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbek police detain opposition leader

FEB. 28 2021 (The Bulletin) — Police in Uzbekistan detained Khidirnazar Allakulov, one of the country’s only opposition leaders, on the day that he was due to hold a meeting with supporters in Tashkent, raising questions over the authorities’ attitude towards political plurality. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has spoken of his mission to uphold democratic principles in Uzbekistan.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kazakh authorities clamp down on anti-China protests

ALMATY/FEB. 10 2021 (The Bulletin) —  Apparently unconcerned by hardening language from the West towards Beijing and its treatment of ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs, the authorities in Kazakhstan jailed a man for protesting outside the Chinese consulate in Almaty. 

Media reported that police detained Baibolat Kunbolatuly, who was part of a 10-person protest mainly of women holding photos of missing sons, brothers and husbands outside the consulate the day before, and that a court then efficiently sentenced him to 10 days in jail for breaking rules around mass gatherings. In Kazakhstan, protests require written permission from the authorities.

Mr Kunbolatuly had been protesting against the disappearance of his brother in China, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. He suspects that his brother is being held in one of China’s, by now notorious, re-education camps which have been built in Xinjiang province over the past four years to hold hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

China has said that the camps are education-focused and that they are designed to help ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs improve themselves. Human rights groups have called them prisons, a view Western governments are coming round to. 

In Kazakhstan, reporting on the camps in Xinjiang has been minimal but protests against China and its actions in Xinjiang are becoming more widespread.

The issue of China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is a thorny issue for the Kazakh government. 

It is reliant on Chinese cash to fund various infrastructure projects and China is also a major stakeholder in Kazakh industry. The flipside is that there are an estimated 200,000 ethnic Kazakhs living in Xinjiang and a large ethnic Uyghur population living in Kazakhstan.

And, embarrassingly for Kazakh officials, the major information leaks from Xinjiang over the past few years have also come from Kazakhs escaping over the border into Kazakhstan. They now want to prove to their Chinese counterparts that they are reliable partners.

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— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Azerbaijani authorities arrest opposition leaders

JULY 28 (The Bulletin) — The authorities in Azerbaijan sent opposition leader Mammad Ibrahim to pretrial detention ahead of his trial for organising an illegal rally. Police detained Mr Ibrahim and around 30 other opposition activists linked to the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party at a protest on July 14/15 that called for intensified military action against Armenia around the disputed region Nagorno-Karabakh. Opposition groups have accused the government of using the protests and anti-coronavirus lockdowns to target opposition activists.

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— This story was published in issue 455 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 31 2020.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Kazakh court imprisons activist for insulting ruling party

JUNE 22 (The Bulletin) — A court in Almaty sentenced an opposition activist to “three years of limited freedom” for insulting the governing Nur Otan party. Alnur Ilyashev’s crime was to describe on various Facebook posts Nur Otan as a bunch of “crooks and thieves”. The judge declined to give him the prison sentence that government prosecutors had asked for but he will have to serve 300 hours of community service and is banned from political activity for five years.

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— This story was first published in issue 451 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, published on June 23 2020

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Kyrgyz president sacks deputy PM and health minister over coronavirus response

APRIL 5 (The Bulletin) — At least two people have now died with COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz health workers said. They both died in a hospital in Nookat in the south of the country, the epicentre of the outbreak in Kyrgyzstan. Officials have said that pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Mecca to their homes in and around Osh and Jala-Abad spread the coronavirus.

Looking to deflect criticism pf the government’s response to the spread of the coronavirus, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked health minister Kosmosbek Cholponbayev and deputy PM Altynai Omurbekova (April 1). He said that they had been too slow to identify the source of the virus in the country and said that their work was “unsatisfactory”.

The state-of-emergency forced a court in Bishkek to postpone the trial of former president Almazbek Atambayev and 13 other defendants who are charged with inciting deadly clashes with the security forces in August 2019 (March 30). 

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— This story was first published in issue 441 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Azerbaijan frees journalist who says he was abducted from Tbilisi

MARCH 27 (The Bulletin) — Afgan Mukhtarli, the Azerbaijani journalist freed from prison in Baku last month, once again accused the Georgian government of colluding with Azerbaijan’s government over his abduction from Tbilisi and subsequent arrest in 2017.  “If they admit that I really was kidnapped in Georgia and handed over to the Azerbaijani authorities illegally, that could result in the resignation of the Georgian government,” he told the GlobalVoices website. Mr Mukhtarli was jailed for crossing a border illegally, charges he said were actually linked to his critical journalism. He has fled to Tbilisi from Baku in 2014.

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— This story was first published in issue 441 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

New law in Kazakhstan will restrict protest rights, says HRW

MARCH 26 (The Bulletin) — Kazakhstan’s parliament passed the first vote of a new law that human rights activists said would restrict people’s rights to protest (March 26).  “The bill still gives the authorities power to approve or reject requests to hold events depending on their form,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “Government officials can propose alternative locations, times, and dates. If the organisers do not consent to the change, the event will be cancelled.” HRW also said, though, that parliament had voted against increased restrictions against journalists covering public meetings and protests.

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— This story was first published in issue 441 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020