Kyrgyzstan: Jailed Opposition Politician Reportedly Attempts Suicide
Officials in Kyrgyzstan have said that opposition politician Sadyr Japarov, who was arrested earlier this month after returning from years of self-imposed exiled, has attempted to commit suicide in prison.
The state prison service stated that in the early hours of April 2, Japarov “slashed himself in the neck and left arm.” His cellmates reportedly immediately summoned officers in the detention facility when they saw the former member of parliament had lost consciousness.
On April 4, website Super.kg ran graphic images of Japarov being stretchered away by emergency medical staff.
Japarov, a member of the nationalist Ata-Jurt party, returned to Kyrgyzstan on March 25 after a four-year absence, only to be immediately detained by the security services. That sparked rowdy demonstrations in the capital, Bishkek, by his indignant supporters. The protests degenerated into ugly scuffles with police. Several dozen people were held by police over the unrest. Japarov’s supporters have alleged that the politician’s sons were also detained and subjected to beatings at the hands of the police.
Cholpon Omurkanova, a member of a prisons supervisory body, said that she had been able to visit Japarov following the self-wounding incident.
“This was an attempted suicide as a form of protest against the situation that led to his sons and relatives being beaten while also held in detention facilities,” she said.
Investigators accuse Japarov of funding the organization of violent protests in October 2013 in the Issyk-Kul region — ostensibly in favor of nationalizing the economically vital Kumtor gold field — with a view to sowing political unrest. During those protests in the town of Karakol, crowds reportedly took Issyk-Kul governoror Emil Kaptagayev hostage. According to some accounts, Kaptagayev’s captors at one stage doused him in petrol and threatened to set him alight.
Kaptagayev has in recent days insisted he nurtures no grievances against Japarov and said that he has not filed any reports against him.
Japarov has been ordered to remain in custody until investigations are complete. No date has been offered as to when that might happen.
Rights activists have registered their dismay at the fact that Japarov is not being held in the relatively safe confines of a security services holding cell, but instead in the SIZO No. 1 pretrial detention facility.
“That they have put him in SIZO No. 1 is also a form of pressure on Japarov by the security services and that the criminals that reside there,” said Tolekan Ismailova.
Ismailova also questioned how it was that Japarov was able to so easily get his hands on a knife.
A spokesperson for the prison service, Alexander Niksdorf, responded to this by saying that prisoners may have knives for use in cutting bread and fruit. It is with one such knife that Japarov may have inflicted the wounds, he said.
Doctors have described Japarov’s condition as stable and said that he will be returned to his cell as soon as he is better.
Nurjamal Djanibekova is a journalist based in Bishkek.