As President Almazbek Atambayev was trumpeting Kyrgyzstan’s democratization potential during a late March European tour, Kyrgyz state security agents were raiding a human rights organization best known for defending members of the embattled Uzbek minority in the southern city of Osh.
Civic activists have long worried that members of the opaque GKNB – successor to the Soviet-era KGB – are less interested in defending citizens from security threats than in protecting their own business interests. In the wake of the March 27 raid on the Osh office of Bir Duino, those concerns have grown.
Bir Duino, an advocacy group that counts a number of Western governments among its partners, is known for engaging in work that has rankled the country’s security agencies, in particular activities addressing the consequences of ethnic violence in 2010 that largely targeted the Uzbek minority in Osh.
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Chris Rickleton is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.