Central Aisan Countries Need to Redirect their Attention

Central Asian governments ramped up pressure on nongovernmental groups and activists in 2015. The governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan arrested and imprisoned government critics, closed down independent groups and opposition parties, and adopted legislation restricting the rights of nongovernmental organizations. Central Asian governments are becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent, criticism, and human rights scrutiny as of right. The government of Kazakhstan allows little public dissent and clamped down on free speech during 2015 by suspending and shuttering critical media outlets and fining and jailing peaceful protesters for violating a restrictive public assembly law. Despite its human rights pledges, including winning a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, Kyrgyzstan expelled a freelance journalist, raided the offices and homes of human rights lawyers, and banned an international human rights monitor from the country. Authorities are not doing enough to tackle long-standing problems of domestic violence or torture, while a “foreign agents” bill, an anti-#@$% “propaganda” bill, and a bill that would curb the independence of the National Center for the Prevention of Torture – all of which would be a step backward for human rights – are before parliament. Importance needs to be placed on the pressing matters not the people who are just try to make the world a better place. How would you feel if you were targeted for being an activist in these countries?

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