Kyrgyzstan: Release The Kempir-Abad Defendants

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More than 20 peaceful protestors were arrested in October 2022 in connection to a controversy about a land-swap involving the Kempir-Abad reservoir. There are currently 27 individuals in pretrial detention or under house arrest in connection with this case. 

The arrests came after a group of politicians and activists formed the “Kempir-Abad Defence Committee” to protest against the lack of consultation over a new border demarcation agreement with Uzbekistan. The agreement would cede control of the Kempir-Abad (Andizhan) fresh-water reservoir to Uzbekistan in exchange for agricultural land.

The authorities arrested multiple members of the committee and others connected to them in October 2022 and during subsequent weeks. The defendants were transferred to detention centres and some were not allowed access to their lawyers.

Seven defendants are being held in the Bishkek pretrial detention centre (SIZO No.1), who have complained about the inhumane conditions of detention. They do not have access to proper water and sanitation, room for exercise, necessary medical treatment and family visits. These defendants are: 
1.    Rita Karasartova, a human rights activist and head of the non-governmental Institute for Public Analysis. She is also a member of the United Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan.
2.    Ali Shabdan, an activist who joined the Reform party, led by Klara Sooronkulova.
3.    Erlan Bekchoroev, an activist and member of the Turan Democratic Party.
4.    Zhenish Moldokmatov, an activist and leader of the Turan Democratic Party.
5.    Aidanbek Akmatov, a journalist who worked at the BBC and Azattyk Radio (RFE/RL).
6.    Atay Beyshenbek, a blogger and activist.
7.    Marat Bayazov, an activist, business consultant, and a member of the United Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan. 

Five other defendants have been placed under house arrest, including:
1.    Asiya Sasykbayeva, a human rights activist and former Member of Parliament.
2.    Klara Sooronkulova, a member of the United Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan.
3.    Gulnara Dzhurabaeva, an activist and former Central Electoral Commission member.
4.    Perizat Suranova, an activist who managed various international projects, including "Women's Rights to Land" (UNIFEM project) and stood for election as a member of parliament in 2021.
5.    Ulugbek Mamatayev, a politician and an activist who stood for election in 2020 and 2021.

The United Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan is an opposition movement formed in March 2022 by a group of activists and human rights defenders, some of whom have been involved in the protests. Among their goals, the movement is working for the restoration of democratic institutions, the creation of a fair justice system, the development of anti-crisis economic measures and the fight against poverty. 

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