BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz lawyers defending ethnic Uzbeks allegedly involved in the ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan in June are demanding protection, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Lawyer Dinara Turdumatova told RFE/RL that the lawyers plan to picket the Supreme Court building in Bishkek on October 21. Turdumatova said that there were several instances of lawyers defending ethnic Uzbeks at the trials in the southern regions of Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Batken being assaulted, beaten, or threatened.
Turdumatova said 161 lawyers signed a petition demanding safety and security and sent it to President Roza Otunbaeva, the Supreme Court, and the Interior Ministry last month. But she said they received no response.
On October 13-14, five lawyers, three defendants, and a driver were seriously beaten by victims' relatives in front of an Osh courthouse.
International and domestic human rights organizations and the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek have called on the Kyrgyz government to take measures to protect the rights and security of all the defendants and their lawyers.
Local governments continue to affirm that they are doing what they can to protect all defendants and their lawyers.
The government announced on October 19 that a group of officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Azimbek Beknazarov left Bishkek for southern Kyrgyzstan to familiarize themselves with the situation. They reportedly plan to visit Batken, Osh, and Jalal-Abad.