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© Peter Zalmayev     
About the Central Asia Project

In Central Asia, the League's work has been focused on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. With the notable exception of Kyrgyzstan, where President Akayev was overthrown in March 2005 as a result of a popular uprising, these countries have been moving in an increasingly authoritarian direction unleashing a harassment campaign against human rights defenders, journalists, civic activists and all others critical of the governments and their policies.

In Kazakhstan, one of the leading opposition leaders, former Prime-Minister Akhedzhan Kazhegeldin was disqualified from participating in the 1998 presidential elections, criminally charged for reasons widely considered to be political, and has had to live in exile ever since. Most of the country's media is now under the tight control by the President's daughter and son-in-law, since the majority of independent and opposition newspapers have been either closed down or denied registration in the past few years. Recently, in a country that aspires to chair the OSCE in 2009, President Nazarbayev has intensified his campaign against civil society by introducing a draft law before parliament would significantly restrict foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from operating in Kazakhstan and from providing grants to domestic groups. Additionally, law-makers have recently adopted an amendment to Kazahkstan's election law that bans public demonstrations between the end of an election campaign and the announcement of election results.

In Kyrgyzstan, the downfall of President Akayev's government in March 2005 was brought about by the population's total loss of confidence in his government's policies--corrupt, inefficient, and undemocratic. The League, together with its partner human rights NGOs, is working with the current interim government of Kurmanbek Bakiev to help Kyrgyzstan develop a program of development that would have as its priority respect for human rights and rule of law. The first such test of the new government will come on July 10, when the country holds presidential elections.

In Turkmenistan, the medieval-style cult of President Niyazov (Turkmenbashi) has become the brunt of jokes around the world. This is a country where children start their day in school by pledging an oath of allegiance to the President with their hand on "Rukhnama," a "holy" book supposedly written by him. A major city has been re-named in his honor, while a golden statue of him stands in the middle of Ashgabad, the capital, programmed to rotate so that the sun never stops shining on it. There are no independent media outlets, opposition parties, and only two religious confessions are allowed: Russian Orthodox Church and state-sanctioned and controlled form of Islam.

Social tension in Uzbekistan has been mounting as thousands of people (seven thousand by some estimates) have been imprisoned on apparently spurious charges of "religious extremism," and "attempting to overthrow the existing constitutional order." This crackdown intensified after the bomb explosions in Tashkent in 1999, and has continued unabated ever since. Many fear that a significant part of those jailed on the aforementioned charges are simply followers of Islam trying to practice their faith outside the state-sanctioned Muslim authority, the Muftiat. The majority of such believers are members of Islamic party Hizb-ut Tahrir and so-called Wahhabis. Independent press does not exist in Uzbekistan and human rights activists are subjected to routine harassment by the authorities. The crackdown against human rights activists and political opponents has escalated dramatically in the aftermath of the tragedy that occured in Andijan on May 13-14, 2005 (See League's letter to President Karimov). Uzbek armed forces shot at a crowd of demonstrators, killing many innocent civilians. While the government's figure is significantly lower, witness accounts and local NGOs estimate the number of dead to be as high as 1,000. The League has appealed to the Government of Uzbekistan to

The League works with regional human rights groups, including the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, Bureau on Human Rights (Kyrgyzstan), Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan and others by helping them bring their case to international fora such as the United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.




A The League submits alternative report on Turkmenistan 's compliance to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD)

Uzbekistan: League Protests Intensified Persecution of Civil Society Activists

League and Memorial Submit Report on Uzbekistan to UN Human Rights Committee

Uzbekistan: Prison Term to Mother of a Man Who Died in Jail

UN Human Rights Commission Adopts Resolution on Turkmenistan

Kyrgyzstan: Attack on Osh Media Resource Center

Strasbourg, October 23, 2003: European Parliament Adopts Resolution on Turkmenistan, Including Central Asia

European Parliament Nominates Four Political Prisoners for Sakharov Award

UN Human Rights Commission: Colalition of Human Rights Groups Call for Resolution on Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan: Turkmen Leader Should Mark His Birthday by Introducing Rule of Law

Uzbekistan: League Protests Death Sentences

League Calls for an Impartial Review of Sentence to Kazakhstani Journalist

Human Rights Groups Write to President Bush, Urge Release of Kazakhstani Journalist

League's Statement to 58th Session of UN Human Rights Commission

Human Right Activists From Uzbekistan Hold a Meeting in Almaty

Our Friends and Partners

ILHR Protests and Calls for Action

Related Links


Reports by International Organizations



Conclusions of UN Committee against Torture: Uzbekistan

Conclusions of UN Committee against Torture: Kazakshtan

Observations of UN Human Rights Committee: Uzbekistan


Report on NGOs in the Caucasus and Central Asia



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