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Presence Of Activists' At OSCE Conference Sparks Protests

Kyrgyz emigre Kadyrzhan Batyrov

The presence of Kyrgyz and Tajik activists at an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on human rights in Warsaw has sparked an official protest from Kyrgyzstan and student protests in Tajikistan.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said on September 23 that Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev had expressed his concerns to OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier regarding the presence of Kyrgyz citizen Kadyrzhan Batyrov at the conference.

Batyrov, an ethnic Uzbek who received political asylum in Sweden in 2011, addressed the OSCE conference on September 21. He criticized Bishkek's plans to amend the Kyrgyz constitution and the government's latest efforts to probe his escape from Kyrgyzstan in 2010.

In 2011, Batyrov received a life sentence in absentia on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and organizing deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. He denies the charges.

Separately in Tajikistan, hundreds of pro-government university students have protested the presence of Tajik opposition and rights activists at the Warsaw conference.

On September 19, some 20 Tajik activists residing in Europe entered the conference when the human rights situation in Tajikistan was being discussed.

They wore T-shirts with portraits of Tajik opposition politicians and lawyers who were jailed in the country in recent months.

The OSCE conference opened September 19 and ends on September 29.

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