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Prominent Human Rights Defender Returns To Kyrgyzstan

Human rights activist Tolekan Ismailova in a September photo

Human rights activist Tolekan Ismailova in a September photo

BISHKEK -- Prominent Kyrgyz human rights defender Tolekan Ismailova says she has returned to Kyrgyzstan after fleeing because of threats against her, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Ismailova, chairwoman of the Bishkek-based Citizens Against Corruption human rights group, returned to Kyrgyzstan on October 13.

She told RFE/RL that she decided to come back because of the pressure that has been exerted on rights activists and lawyers following deadly interethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan in June.

"I could not remain abroad when my colleagues are being attacked and harassed [in Kyrgyzstan]," she told RFE/RL on October 16.

Ismailova left Kyrgyzstan three months ago after she was threatened by unknown people for her negative assessment of the government's response to the violent clashes in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad that left more than 400 people dead.

Ismailova criticized the interim government and security forces for their inability to prevent the clashes.

A group of rights activists in Jalal-Abad said last week that they had been threatened by unknown people who claimed to represent a political party that won parliamentary representation in the October 10 elections.