Before the security services in Kyrgyzstan came for Omurbek Tekebayev, there were many other opposition politicians being thrown in jail.
Last month’s arrest of the Ata-Meken party leader sent shockwaves through the country as an escalating confrontation between short-tempered President Almazbek Atambayev and his critics began assuming a more sinister tone.
Tekebayev is one of Kyrgyzstan’s most recognizable politicians and retains strong, if waning, support in his bulwarks in the south, so the rallies that followed his jailing were to be expected.
But as political observers and rights activists note, many other politicians have been arrested, and to much less fanfare. The pattern leading to those jailings has been so consistent as to raise suspicions about the legitimacy of investigations.
“It is a simple scheme — they blacken their names, defame them, arrest them, and then you see little desire for investigators to pursue objective cases,” said Zulfiya Marat, a member of the Committee for the Protection of Political Prisoners rights group.
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Nurjamal Djanibekova is a reporter based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.