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Kyrgyzstan

2012


Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world’s worst jailer. A CPJ special report

At least 49 journalists remain jailed in Turkey. (AFP)

CPJ is petitioning for release of Tibetan Dhondup Wangchen from Chinese jail. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

"I remain hopeful that I will one day see the sun once more--not through the barred window of my prison cell but as a free man." -Azimjon Askarov

Today, on International Human Rights Day, CPJ and close to 20,000 supporters are calling on the governments of China and Kyrgyzstan to release two journalists imprisoned for reporting on minorities' grievances and human rights violations.

Mauri König (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.

Lawyers for imprisoned investigative reporter Azimjon Askarov, who is serving a life term in Kyrgyzstan on charges widely seen as politically motivated, filed an appeal today with the U.N. Human Rights Committee that seeks his release.

(Nurbek Toktakunov)

New York, November 6, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists has created this petition, calling on Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev to release unjustly imprisoned journalist Azimjon Askarov without delay.

Alisher Saipov (Ferghana News)

Five years ago today, press freedom in Kyrgyzstan received a deadly blow from which it has never recovered. Alisher Saipov, one of most promising and prominent regional reporters of his time, was murdered in his native city of Osh. Since that October night, authorities have promised to solve his killing, but impunity reigns to this day, Shohruh Saipov, his brother and also a journalist, told CPJ.

At the time of his murder, Saipov edited his own independent newspaper, Siyosat (Politics), but his resume was impressive for a 26-year-old reporter. In his short career, Saipov contributed to the BBC World Service, the U.S. government-funded outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Moscow-based regional news website Ferghana News.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, right, has said stamping out corruption is a priority. (Reuters//Vladimir Pirogov)

Campaigners from local rights activists to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay are urging Kyrgyz authorities to review the case of Azimjon Askarov, an investigative reporter and human rights activist serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan. 

At a Bishkek roundtable Tuesday called "The Fourth Estate: Rule of the Game," Almambet Shykmamatov, Kyrgyzstan's justice minister, encouraged local reporters to expose government corruption, local press reported. The minister said authorities would follow up on such reports, grant security to investigative journalists, and might even pay them up to 20 percent of the funds that corrupt officials return to state coffers.

Washington, D.C., June 13, 2012--The Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States has agreed to present CPJ's findings on Azimjon Askarov, a journalist unjustly sentenced to a life term, to the president of Kyrgyzstan after a CPJ delegation met with him today to review the case.

Azimjon Askarov, an investigative reporter and human rights defender, had ended careers and embarrassed officials time and again with his reporting on law enforcement abuses in southern Kyrgyzstan. When ethnic unrest broke out in June 2010, authorities struck back with a vengeance. A CPJ special report by Muzaffar Suleymanov

This photo of Askarov was taken at the start of the trial in September 2010. (Nurbek Toktakunov)

World leaders must hold Central Asian regimes responsible for denying global access to information by throwing critical reporters behind bars, CPJ Eurasia researcher Muzaffar Suleymanov told the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe  at a briefing Tuesday on political prisoners in Central Asia.

New York, February 29, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Kyrgyzstan to drop politically motivated extremism charges against independent journalist Vladimir Farafonov.

New York, February 23, 2012--The Kyrgyz government's decision to block access to the independent news website Ferghana News contradicts the country's declared commitment to press freedom and should be overturned immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

As President Roza Otunbayeva declared her commitment to press freedom, parliament decriminalized libel, eliminating a tool used by authorities in the past to suppress critical journalism. But rising violence, censorship, and politically motivated prosecutions marred the year in Kyrgyzstan. Parliament ordered state agencies to block domestic access to the critical website Fergana News, although the order was not immediately implemented. Ahead of the October 30 presidential vote won by Almazbek Atambayev, legislators ordered domestic broadcasters to screen foreign-produced programming and remove content that could insult the candidates. An investigative commission under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe found Kyrgyz authorities complicit in the ethnic conflict that gripped the south in June 2010. The conflict continued to cast a dark shadow over press freedom. Authorities brought trumped-up extremism charges against two ethnic Uzbek media owners, who went into exile after being compelled to give up their news assets. Another ethnic Uzbek journalist, Azimjon Askarov, was serving a life prison term on fabricated charges despite international calls for his release. Legislators banned local media from publishing images of the conflict on its anniversary.

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Killed in Kyrgyzstan

1 journalist killed since 1992

1 journalist murdered

1 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

7 Human rights defenders and groups seeking release of jailed reporter Azimjon Askarov.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

nognianova@cpj.org
msuleymanov@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
ext 106, 101
Fax: 212-465-9568

330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
New York, NY, 10001 USA

Facebook: CPJ ECA Desk

Blog: Nina Ognianova
Blog: Muzaffar Suleymanov