Kyrgyzstan: Don’t Stifle Dissent

For Immediate Release

Kyrgyzstan: Don’t Stifle Dissent

Parliament Targets Commission Chief, Website

NEW YORK - Two resolutions recently adopted by the Kyrgyz parliament could undermine freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to parliamentary leaders on June 21, 2011, Human Rights Watch urged them to rescind the resolutions.

In one resolution, on May 26, parliament gave instructions to bar from the country the chairman of a commission investigating the violence in June 2010 in southern Kyrgyzstan. In the other, on June 16, parliament instructed the Culture and Justice Ministries and the prosecutor general to "take measures to block the site Ferghana.ru in the informational space in the republic."  The site extensively covered the June events, often challenging the official version of the events.

"Allowing open and free discussion in Kyrgyzstan is more important than ever," said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Stifling voices that do not agree with the government version of last year's violence will only exacerbate those tensions and could cause unforeseen consequences."

The May 26 resolution contended that Kimmo Kiljunen, chairman of the independent international Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC), had provided the international community with unconfirmed and partial information about the June events. The commission was established on a request from President Roza Otunbaeva. Its mandate was to explore the facts and circumstances relating to alleged violations during the June 10 violence.

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