Freedom House Condemns Killing of Journalist in Kyrgyzstan
Freedom House today denounced the murder of Alisher Saipov, a prominent journalist and editor of an Uzbek-language newspaper, and called for a complete and independent investigation of his death.
Mr. Saipov, who was twenty-six years old and is survived by his wife and three-month old daughter, wrote extensively about Central Asia, the Fergana Valley and Uzbekistan, including torture and suppression of dissenters. Mr. Saipov’s work was critical of the Uzbekistani government, and sympathetic to the banned Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Preliminary information indicates he was shot at close range, receiving two shots in the chest and one in the head, in the early evening of October 24, 2007, as he walked out of his office in the center of Osh with his companion, who was unharmed.
While the murder occurred in Kyrgyzstan, most news sources believe that it was a direct result of Mr. Saipov’s critical reporting of the Uzbekistani government.
“Freedom House is outraged by the murder of Alisher Saipov. We extend our condolences to his friends and family on this terrible loss and reaffirm our commitment to bolster press freedom,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “This is certaintly an ominous sign of the decline of press freedom in Central Asia.”
Freedom House calls upon the Kyrgyz authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of Saipov’s murder, and urges that the results of the investigation be made public as soon as possible. Additionally, journalists who may be threatened must be protected by security services. Freedom House also encourages the Kyrgyz authorities to investigate allegations of Uzbekistani security forces presence in the area, and their possible involvement in Mr. Saipov’s murder.
Kyrgyzstan is rated Partly Free in the 2007 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. The country received a rating of 5 (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the lowest) for political rights and a 4 for civil liberties, and was given a downward trend arrow due to a decline in religious freedom, including a number of violent incidents involving alleged religious extremists that took place in the country’s south.
Uzbekistan is rated Not Free in the 2007 edition of Freedom in the World. It is considered to be among the “worst of the worst” in terms of the level of civil and political freedoms enjoyed by the population.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expression of freedom around the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Kyrgyzstan since 1972.