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Police Brutality Kills Freelance Journalist
Reporter Tashiev: a victim of Kyrgyz police
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-10-05 10:17 (KST)   
This article is lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
The case of the outspoken, and now dead, journalist Almaz Tashiev reflects a current trend in the human rights environment in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The country is now a hostile environment for independent journalists and ordinary citizens alike.

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The small country of Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, was at the top of the news agenda during its 2005 "Tulip Revolution."

Many experts in the region believe the "Tulip Revolution" was sponsored and supported by the U.S. State Department via local NGOs and programs, even though the Americans had no significant problems with previous Kyrgyz President, Askar Akaev.

As a result of the Tulip Revolution, the opposition member Kurmanbek Bakiev took over the presidency.

He promised sweeping reforms in the country, including changes to the Constitution. However, since his rise to power, the Kyrgyz state transformed from "Island of Democracy" in Central Asia to a notorious regime backed by Russian political establishment of the Kremlin.

Kyrgyz journalists have been routinely intimidated, harassed, beaten and in some cases injured or killed under strangely similar circumstances.

Attacks on independent reporters have created a culture of fear in the journalism community. Many outspoken minds have left the country, seeking refuge in Western Europe and elsewhere.

Almaz Tashiev, 32, was a freelance journalist who worked for multiple news organizations including the Kyrgyz-language newspaper "Agym."

He died in hospital on July 12.

On July 4 Tashiev and his friend went to the local police department in the Nookat county -- Tashiev's home district -- where he applied for a replacement passport, a regular procedure in the Kyrgyz Republic.

What happened next was described by witnesses of Tashiev's severe beating outside the police station as an "absolute bacchanalia."

Radio Free Europe reported that Tashiev has been repeatedly beaten by group of five or six police officers. Some of the policemen were drunk, bystanders recalled. The Kyrgyz newspaper Aki Press reported that policemen allegedly beat the unconscious journalist for another 16 hours.

Tashiev was delivered to the local district clinic on July 5 at 9.35 am.
Tashiev in hospital
©2009 http://pics.livejournal.com/olegpanfilov2/pic/0022

Emergency workers described his injures as extremely life threatening. He suffered internal brain bleeding, heavy brain injury and concussion, which, seven days later, were the cause of his death.

A spokesman for the Internal Affairs Ministry of the Kyrgyz Republic announced the discharge of the Nookat district police chief and opened an investigation into the matter. Two police officers allegedly involved in beating were arrested.

Tashiev's relatives demanded an arrest of all the policemen who participated in crime. Residents of the town where beating scene took place are terrified by local police actions, Cholpon Satybaldieva, one of the witnesses who owns a small grocery shop near police station, said. Satybaldieva added that locals have been avoiding the police station. One of her friends told her to keep quiet or her shop will be burned down -- accidentally.

Almaz Tashiev was buried in his home town on July 13, 2009.
Tashiev's funeral, on July 13th, 2009
©2009 http://pics.livejournal.com/olegpanfilov1/pic/0022

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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