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Kyrgyz Protesters Demand Release Of Uzbek Activists


(RFE/RL) February 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- About 20 protesters rallied today in front of the Uzbek Embassy in Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, in support of two imprisoned Uzbek rights activists, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The crowd demanded that Umida Niyazova and Motabar Tojiboeva be freed and that the persecution of activists be stopped.

The leader of the nongovernmental organization Civic Platform, Alisher Mamasaliev, said that freedom of speech is endangered across Central Asia, and that "we are trying to say that the same danger exists in Kyrgyzstan, that there is a gradual return to the past as far as freedom of speech is concerned. So, this is a signal to all Central Asian countries."

Niyazova, who was detained in December, is accused of being connected to the banned Islamic group Akramiya.

Tojiboeva was sentenced to a prison term last year on financial charges.
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