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Bakhrom Hamroev, pictured earlier this month in Osh
A Russian human rights activist, Bahrom Hamroev, has been deported from Kyrgyzstan while gathering information connected with his work, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Hamroev is said to have been in the southern part of the country in an effort to collect information on alleged abuses against Muslims, who make up a majority of Kyrgyzstan's population.

He is a member of the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, a leading rights-advocacy group that has been critical of government abuses throughout the former Soviet Union.

A Memorial representative said a local rights activist, Izzatilla Rahmatillaev, was detained along with Hamroev.

Vitaly Ponomarev, the director of Memorial's Central Asian program, told RFE/RL that Hamroev's mobile phone and camera were confiscated by police in Osh and he was put on a flight back to Moscow.

Rahmatillaev was later released.

Islamic extremists are frequently blamed for antistate activities in all five of Central Asia's post-Soviet republics, none of which receive high marks from the U.S. government or international NGOs for their rights records.
Rights activist Bakhrom Hamroev

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the government of Kyrgyzstan to release two human rights activists who were investigating alleged rights abuses in the south of the country.

HRW says security officials detained Bakhrom Hamroev and Izzatilla Rakhmatillaev on November 18 in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan.

The New York-based rights group says Hamroev, a Russian citizen, works for the Russian rights group Memorial, while Rakhmatillaev heads Law and Order, an organization based in Osh that investigates rights abuses in southern Kyrgyzstan.

“The Kyrgyz government is out to stop research into abuses committed against so-called extremists in the region,” says Andrea Berg, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. "It is crystal clear that the two men were detained in retaliation for their work."

It's not the first time Kyrgyz authorities have detained activists investigating possible human rights violations in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Hamroev's colleague at Memorial and director of its Central Asia program, Vitaly Ponomarev, was deported from Kyrgyzstan on February 26 and declared persona non grata.

Ponomarev was deported a month after he published a 24-page report about religious persecution and torture in Kyrgyzstan.

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