Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BISHKEK889
2009-08-07 04:34:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SEEK NEW APPROACH

Tags:  PHUM PGOV PREL KG 
pdf how-to read a cable
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 000889 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SEEK NEW APPROACH

REF: A. BISHKEK 810

B. BISHKEK 831

BISHKEK 00000889 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Tatiana C. Gfoeller for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 000889

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SEEK NEW APPROACH

REF: A. BISHKEK 810

B. BISHKEK 831

BISHKEK 00000889 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Tatiana C. Gfoeller for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d).


1. (SBU) Summary: On August 5, the Kyrgyz Ombudsman hosted a
roundtable discussion for human rights activists, civil
society leaders, and government officials to address the
recent arrests and detentions of protesters. Rights
defenders voiced their complaints and demanded answers from
the authorities but received few responses. One prominent
advocate proposed a new approach to protecting the rights of
citizens, beginning with the drafting of a concrete
resolution based on the roundtable discussion. End Summary.

RIGHTS ACTIVISTS BERATE KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
-------------- --------------


2. (SBU) On August 5, Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun chaired a
roundtable organized to discuss the detention and treatment
of protesters arrested on July 23 (Ref A),the day of the
Presidential elections, and July 29 (Ref B). Representatives
from the prosecutor general's office, the Ministry of
Interior (MVD),the Kyrgyz Security Services (GKNB),and the
Constitutional Court faced a barrage of accusations and
relentless questioning from human rights activists and civil
society leaders. Aziza Abdurasulova of Kylym Shamy led the
charge in accusing the MVD of unlawfully arresting and
physically abusing peaceful protesters. She invited several
demonstrators detained on July 29 to retell their story of
abuse and mistreatment by the MVD. She demanded that the
prosecutors explain the legal authority to use a military
facility for holding and trying detainees. To this, the
prosecutors had no response.


3. (SBU) Numerous other rights activists and NGO leaders
followed Abdurasulova's scolding with similar charges and
demands for answers. Asiya Sasykbaeva, head of the advocacy
center Interbilim, launched a barrage of questions, asking
"With what authority are you allowed to detain members of
Parliament? With what authority can the police beat
demonstrators? With what authority can you hold protesters
in detention centers without access to lawyers?" To each of

these questions, a representative from the Prosecutor
General's office stated that the authorities were within
their rights to preserve stability and protect the
Constitutional order. Tolekan Ismailova of the human rights
center Citizens against Corruption made an emotional plea for
government officials to allow for medical care and treatment
of some detainees allegedly injured during the Balykchy
protest and subsequent police crackdown.

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS HAD FEW ANSWERS BUT ENDURED VERBAL ABUSE
-------------- --------------


3. (SBU) Kyrgyz government officials attempted to provide
their version of the arrests and detentions but rights
defenders were quick to rebut their every claim. An MVD
colonel began to convey the government's official account of
the recent arrests of protesters on July 23 and 29. Each
statement, however, was quickly contested by rights activists
and some of the protesters originally detained. At one
point, the colonel stated that MVD officers at the scene
"politely asked the protesters to walk on the sidewalks
instead of the main roads but they refused." To this the
room erupted with shouts of "liar!" and arguments that the
colonel did not know the truth because he wasn't present
during the events.

OMBUDSMAN BECOMES TARGET OF CRITICISM
--------------


4. (SBU) The roundtable steadily spiraled out of control and

BISHKEK 00000889 002.2 OF 002


the Ombudsman, in an attempt to calm both sides, became an
additional target of criticism. With both sides shouting at
each other, the Ombudsman clearly lost control of the
roundtable, during which he had promised "a healthy
dialogue." As he attempted to restore order, the rights
activists turned their attention on the Ombudsman, claiming
that he was holding the roundtable just to show President
Bakiyev that he was working. To this, the Ombudsman sadly
proclaimed "It's tough for me to do this job!"

A NEW APPROACH IS PROPOSED...
--------------


5. (SBU) The three-hour long meeting ended with Cholpon
Jakupova advocating for a new approach to human rights
activism and proposing that the roundtable result in a
concrete resolution to be sent to President Bakiyev.
Jakupova, director of the Adilet Legal Clinic, stood up
towards the end of the meeting and asked what the group had
achieved during the "three-hour debate." She said that each
roundtable discussion allowed for the rights groups to vent
their frustrations and voice their complaints but resulted in
little change. Jakupova proposed that the group draft a
resolution that included concrete suggestions, distribute it
to the international NGO and diplomatic community for
support, and submit it to the government. Participants, with
the exception of government officials, agreed that this would
be a positive step forward.


6. (C) During a separate conversation, Jakupova told Poloff
that the human rights organizations desperately needed to
rethink their approach to protecting the rights of citizens.
Jakupova felt that "society is tired of the protests and is
beginning to turn its frustrations on us." She realized that
she and her colleagues have made little headway in
influencing fundamental changes to the government's policies
to protect human rights. She believed that they were always
"reactionary and never proactive." Jakupova said that she
didn't have the perfect answer but hoped to discuss the
situation with her partners and develop a new plan of action.


COMMENT
--------------


7. (C) This roundtable discussion, as with most others,
provided human rights groups and civil society leaders with
the opportunity to complain to the government. The
government sent mid- to high-level officials as sacrificial
lambs, armed with few arguments and a weak or non-existent
defense strategy, to endure the brunt of the activists' fury.
The government may have caught on to the notion that giving
the human rights defenders a venue to vent their frustrations
provides for sufficient pacification. Jakupova's proposal to
press for concrete results and a new plan of action may be
the key to rights groups actually influencing positive change
to Kyrgyz government policies.
GFOELLER