As President Askar Akayev establishes the administrative groundwork for his third term, a government crackdown in Kyrgyzstan is continuing. Specifically, authorities are targeting activists of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir movement, charging that the group is supporting Islamic insurgent activity in the region. Some members of the group, however, say they have no affiliation with the insurgents.
Most recently, authorities in the Osh region arrested three Hizb-ut-Tahrir activists for distributing leaflets that call for the establishment of an Islamic state, according to local press reports January 3. Officials contend that the leaflets incite violence. The Islamic group is most active in southern Kyrgyzstan, which has a significant ethnic Uzbek population.
Concurrent with a crackdown against unsanctioned religious activity, officials have targeted human rights activists. In perhaps the most prominent instance of official harassment, Ramazan Dyryldaev, the chairman of Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights fled the country last summer after officials issued a warrant for his arrest. He found asylum in Austria.
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Alisher Khamidov is the director of the Osh Media Resource Center in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.