Saturday, October 25, 2014

UN High Commissioner For Human Rights Lambastes Kyrgyz Antigay Law


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the Kyrgyz government "to refrain from passing draft legislation" against sexual minorities.

The statement that was issued on October 24 said that the draft legislation would "violate fundamental human rights, including the rights to liberty, security and physical integrity and to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."

Last week, Kyrgyzstan's parliament approved in the first reading a draft law that envisages a punishment to up to one year in jail for "propaganda of same-sex relations."

It says journalists found guilty of "propagating" homosexual relations will be held accountable, too.

The bill bans the creation of groups that defend the rights of sexual minorities.

The law has to pass the parliament's approval in two more readings and then be signed by the president in order to come into force.

Pretrial Detention Of Prominent Azerbaijani Rights Defender Extended

Leyla Yunus

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

The pretrial detention of prominent Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus has been extended.

Yunus's lawyer, Elcin Qanbarov, told RFE/RL that Baku's Nasimi District Court had ruled on October 24 that Yunus must stay in pretrial detention until February 28.

Yunus, 57, is a fierce critic of Azerbaijan's poor rights record. She and her husband, Arif Yunus, 59, were arrested in July and August and charged with high treason, spying for Armenia, illegal business activities, documents forgery, and fraud.

The couple insists the charges are politically motivated.

Human rights organizations have demanded that Azerbaijani authorities immediately release the couple.

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition announced on October 24 that it had nominated Yunus for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

She was a finalist for the recent Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.


Amnesty Urges Uzbekistan To Free 'Prisoner Of Conscience'

Dilorom Abdukadirova


Amnesty International says nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition calling on Uzbek President Islam Karimov to immediately release a woman it calls a “prisoner of conscience.”

The signatures in support of 49-year-old Dilorom Abdukadirova were collected in 123 countries as part of the organization’s “Stop Torture” campaign, Amnesty International U.K. said in an October 20 statement.

Amnesty describes Abdukadirova as a vegetable seller and "prisoner of conscience" serving an 18-year prison sentence for participating in a protest for better economic conditions in the Central Asian nation.

She originally fled the country in 2005 after Uzbek forces fired on protesters in the town of Andijon, killing hundreds of people, according to witnesses, but was arrested in 2010 after returning to reunite with her family, Amnesty says.

Russian Activist Bogatenkova Released From Custody

An undated screen grab from an earlier Dozhd TV report on Lyudmila Bogatenkova, of the Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee in Stavropol

Seventy-three-year-old Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Bogatenkova has been released from detention after two nights in jail in southern Russia, according to her lawyer.

Bogatenkova, chairwoman of the Budyonnovsk branch of the Soldiers Mothers Committee human-rights NGO, was released from custody in Stavropol on October 20 after signing a statement that she would not leave the country, the lawyer told journalists.

Bogatenkova faces charges of fraud stemming from four-year-old allegations of financial wrongdoing.

The chairman of Russia's presidential rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, said he is personally monitoring Bogatenkova's case.

Rights council member Sergei Krivenko told Interfax that Bogatenkova clearly presents no threat to society and that taking her into custody "looks like revenge for her human-rights activity."

In August, Bogatenkova handed over to the presidential rights council documentation connected with the alleged deaths of dozens of Russian soldiers near a military training camp in the Rostov region, near Russia's border with the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

The Soldiers' Mothers network has publicly alleged that Russian soldiers have died or been wounded in Ukraine and that thousands have served there during the past six months or so.

Based on reporting by Dozhd TV and Interfax

Azerbaijani Rights Activist Reportedly Asks President For Pardon

Rasul Jafarov

Azerbaijani officials say Rasul Jafarov, a rights activist who is in pretrial detention, has asked President Ilham Aliyev for a pardon.

A copy of what the Penitentiary Service said was a letter from Jafarov asking Aliyev for a pardon was posted by the news agency APA on October 16. 

Lawyers for Jafarov could not immediately be reached.

Jafarov was arrested in August and charged with treason, tax evasion, and illegal entrepreneurship.

He is one of several activists detained in Azerbaijan in recent months in what UN experts have called a "trend of repression." 

On October 15, the chairperson of the Norway-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) expressed concern about crackdowns on rights activists in oil-producing Azerbaijan.

Clare Short said the situation is "clearly problematic."

On the same day, the U.S. State Department urged Azerbaijan to release those detained for exercising fundamental rights.

Based on reporting by the Azeri Press Agency, Interfax and EITI statement

Putin Signs Bill Curbing Foreign Media Ownership Into Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill into law that limits foreign ownership in Russian media to 20 percent.

Media reports in Russia on October 15 said the law signed by Putin also prohibits media outlets from being funded or run by foreign groups or individuals, including Russians with dual nationality.

The law requires owners of media companies with foreign-owned stakes of more than 20 percent to lower these stakes by February 2017.

Duma deputy Vadim Dengin, one of the authors of the bill, said last month that some 30 media outlets operating in Russia, including "Vedomosti," "Kommersant," and "Forbes," will be affected by the law.

Some media investors have criticized the bill as the Kremlin's latest attempt to stifle media freedom.

Based on reporting by and Interfax

Kidnapped Kyrgyz Bride Reportedly Hangs Herself

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

 A Kyrgyz teenager has reportedly committed suicide after being snatched as a bride in northern Kochkor district.

Munara Beknazarova of Bishkek-based nongovernmental organization Aikyn Bagyt (Clear Direction) told RFE/RL on October 14 that an 18-year-old woman hanged herself after she was abducted by a family in the Issyk-Kul district this month.

Meanwhile, Kochkor district officials and local police denied the report by Beknazarova, saying that the incident had never taken place.

Beknazarova said the young woman, whose name was not disclosed, told a friend by phone before her suicide that she had been kidnapped and forced to be the wife of a man she did not know.

Beknazarova said the woman's parents had not informed police about their daughter but that Aikyn Bagyt did.

Kyrgyz rights activists say about 12,000 Kyrgyz women are abducted and forced into marriage every year.

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