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Kyrgyz Rights Activists Accuse Authorities Of Cruelty

In a statement, the Kyrgyz Council of Human Rights Activists has accused state officials of cruelty and injustice, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The statement comes one day after the Kyrgyz Supreme Court upheld convictions against 32 religious extremists.

The defendants, from the southern Osh region, were accused of organizing a mass gathering in October in the town of Nookat to protest a government decision not to allow a religious celebration for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which is marked at the end of Ramadan.

On November 27, the Osh Regional Court sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from nine to 20 years.

The Supreme Court reduced the sentences to between five and 17 years.

The council's statement says that "every Kyrgyz citizen lost as a result of the Supreme Court's hearing on [May 19], because the rule of law, humanity, and justice lost."

The Kyrgyz rights activists added that "the authorities' obvious unjust behavior, the clear groundlessness of the accusations, and senseless cruelty carry the danger that the population might lose its trust in the state justice system, which might become fertile soil for the seeds of radicalism and extremism."

The defendants' complaints that they were severely beaten and tortured while in detention were not taken into account at the May 19 hearings.