Kyrgyzstan: The authorities must refrain from unlawful use of force

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Kyrgyzstan not to use excessive force in their attempts to end protests in the capital Bishkek and other Kyrgyz cities that have reportedly already left 17 people dead and many more injured.

Demonstrators calling for the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakyev over rising prices have reportedly seized weapons from the police which has led to violent confrontations.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director Andrea Huber said:

“The authorities have the right and the responsibility to protect the lives and safety of the public, but they must not use excessive force. The use of force is legitimate only where it is strictly necessary and proportionate.”

Tensions between the government and the opposition in Kyrgyzstan have escalated in recent weeks, erupting yesterday in the provincial town of Talas following the arrest of an opposition leader who was later released.

Growing discontent among the population caused by rising prices in heating fuel and electricity has prompted the opposition to call for nationwide protests should the government not meet a list of demands. In response a state of emergency has been declared by the president and several opposition figures, who had called for the demonstrations, have been arrested and accused of organising riots.

Amnesty is concerned that members of the opposition may have been arrested arbitrarily and that they may face torture or ill-treatment in detention.

Andrea Huber added:

“The Kyrgyz authorities should bear in mind that human rights cannot be trampled on even in the state of emergency. The unrest must not be used as a pretext to further restrict freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.”

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