03/10/2023, 09.28
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Biškek's crackdown on political prisoners

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The most prominent, former MP Asya Sasykbaeva, remains in prison despite health problems. House arrest denied to other prisoners like her. President Žaparov targeted those who opposed his border agreement with Uzbekistan.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - One of the main protagonists of the so-called Kempir-Abad affair, former MP Asya Sasykbaeva, is going through a very difficult phase of the detention she is forced to undergo, due to the worsening of chronic illnesses from which she has been suffering for some time. This was stated to the press by her lawyer, Rabiga Sydykova, explaining that the treatment she is receiving in prison would be ineffective.

Despite the pain in her joints and a strong cough, Sasykbaeva is considered by the prison health management to be able to remain in her cell, as there is no 'urgent need for hospitalisation', even though the walls of the place of detention are covered everywhere with mould, the lawyer claims. It is hoped that the pressure of public opinion will persuade those in charge to have her examined by specialists in a well-equipped clinic, 'since she does not like our doctors', they replied from the management office in a dismissive tone to journalists' requests.

The 71-year-old Sasykbaeva, who has been in prison since last November, is a very popular politician; she was also speaker of the Biškek parliament, and in October 2022 she had been included in the People's Committee for the Defence of the Kempir-Abad reservoir, which according to the agreements made by President Žaparov will be granted to Uzbekistan for the solution of border problems. The authorities arrested her along with 20 other politicians and activists, who are also still imprisoned, on charges of fomenting mass riots that were later violently suppressed by the security forces.

A few days ago, the former MP made it known that the investigators had charged her with other criminal offences, but that she had not been informed of the details of the new charges. They also informed her that her pre-trial detention has been extended until April.

The group of those detained in this case, together with Sasykbaeva, believes that the real criminal act is the one carried out by the authorities, preventing the manifestation of the will of the people and imposing political persecution on them, guilty only of setting up the committee to voice the protests.

In addition to Sasykbaeva, other elderly women are imprisoned, and on 8 March, many called for at least their transfer to house arrest, as a long stay in the uncomfortable conditions of the isolation cells of the Kyrgyz prison could ruin their health.

In mid-January, it was reported that the Ministry of the Interior in Biškek had put the whole Kempir-Abad affair on hold, without making any comments to explain this decision. In an earlier interview with the state agency Kabar, President Žaparov had stated that 'more than 90 per cent of those under arrest had taken part in one way or another in the negotiations to resolve the border issues, and they were fully informed that the Kempir-Abad issue was moving towards a very favourable solution for Kyrgyzstan'.

In his opinion, they are therefore guilty of 'stirring up public opinion for no reason', making themselves guilty of yet another coup attempt, a very common practice in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, using a very sensitive issue as a weapon, since they 'had no other way of preventing the course of reforms begun in the last two years'.

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