WASHINGTON – The United States Helsinki Commission announced today a briefing on the situation of political prisoners in Central Asia.
“Political Prisoners in Central Asia”
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2203
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have some of the highest numbers of political prisoners in the former Soviet Union. While each country in Central Asia is different, there are worrying trends among all five. In Uzbekistan, human rights activists, journalists, and members of certain religious groups fall victim to restrictive laws and policies. In Turkmenistan, would-be political opposition and human rights activists are targeted. In Kyrgyzstan, trials following ethnic violence in June 2010 have been biased against ethnic Uzbeks and human rights activists supporting them. Tajikistan has enacted a restrictive religion law, and Kazakhstan has arrested political opposition figures in the wake of a violent crackdown on protesters late last year.
While some governments claim that ensuring stability and fighting extremism are paramount, laws restricting political participation, independent journalism, civil society, and freedom of religion may have the opposite effect. This briefing will look at these trends, as well as the conditions under which such prisoners are kept.
Dr. Sanjar Umarov, Chairman of the Sunshine Coalition and former political prisoner
Cathy Cosman, Senior Policy Analyst, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
** BRIEFER ADDED: Muzaffar Suleymanov, Europe and Central Asia Research Associate, Committee to Protect Journalists