KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 22 January 2002.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

KYRGYZSTAN: MUSLIM RIGHTS ACTIVIST DETAINED. Bahodyr
Akhmedov, the son of a prominent local imam, was detained on 11
January by officers of the National Security Service (NSS) in Jalal-Abad
city, in southern Kyrgyzstan, Keston News Service learned on 17 January
from the Bishkek-based Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law.
Akhmedov, a member of the Committee for the Protection of Muslims'
Rights - an officially registered non-governmental organisation - is
charged with illegal possession of weapons. A human rights activist from
Jalal-Abad told Keston on 18 January that bullets may have been planted
in Akhmedov's home and said that he personally had �strong doubts as to
Akhmedov's guilt�.

KYRGYZSTAN: MUSLIM RIGHTS ACTIVIST DETAINED

by Igor Rotar, Keston News Service

Bahodyr Akhmedov, the son of a prominent local imam, was detained on
11 January by officers of the National Security Service (NSS) in Jalal-
Abad city, in southern Kyrgyzstan, Keston News Service learned on 17
January from the Bishkek-based Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of
Law. Akhmedov is a member of the Committee for the Protection of
Muslims' Rights - an officially registered non-governmental organisation
in Kyrgyzstan founded by, among others, a member of parliament, the
president of the sub-committee for religious affairs Alisher Sobirov.

�Akhmedov certainly did hold quite radical views, but I doubt very much
whether he could have gone so far as to break the law,� Sobirov told
Keston in Bishkek on 18 January. �We are looking into this case
carefully, and are gathering information. For the time being, I will refrain
from drawing any definite conclusions.�

Akhmedov�s father Makhamadjan, described by the Bureau on Human
Rights and Rule of Law as "one of the most well-known and respected
imams in Jalal-Abad", denies any claims that his son belongs to radical
branches of the Muslim religion. Yet Makhamadjan Akhmedov, a Kyrgyz
citizen from the country's ethnic Uzbek minority, was himself included in
a list of "politically unreliable persons" by the Uzbek special forces.
"Makhamadjan has never been to Uzbekistan, fearing that he would be
arrested there," his wife Marina Akhmedova told Keston by telephone on
18 January. She added that Makhamadjan Akhmedov's brother Bakhram
fled to Australia from the Uzbek special forces in 1998, leaving behind
his wife and four children, and requested political asylum there.

Until recently, Makhamadjan Akhmedov had no problems with the
Kyrgyz authorities. However, Marina Akhmedova told Keston, towards
the end of November 2001 employees of the Kyrgyz special forces came
to her house twice and questioned her about her husband. She is
convinced that they planted bullets. "I have cleaned the apartment daily, I
know all its nooks and crannies, and I can testify that there were no
bullets in it," she said.

According to unofficial sources, on 11 January the Akhmedovs� house
was the subject of a search-and-confiscate operation. Money, photos, a
TV, video, camera, video-cassettes, fax machine and even the water
heater were confiscated. So far, only a private car has been returned.
Bahodyr Akhmedov was arrested and on 13 January transferred to the
capital, Bishkek, where he is currently held in an NSS pre-trial detention
centre (known in Russian as a SIZO). His relatives have reported that his
health is good. According to Akhmedov's lawyer, he is accused of
illegally harbouring weapons (gun cartridges) (under article 241 part 1 of
the Criminal Code) which were allegedly found during the search. The
maximum punishment is three years' imprisonment plus a fine amounting
to 1,000 US dollars. The NSS sent video tapes of the search for expert
analysis.

Marina Akhmedova told Keston that in November 2001 NSS employees
had tried to get into her apartment a third time, hoping that no-one would
be there. "They knew that I had gone to meet my husband, and decided to
get into our flat at that time, to leave something else. But they were not
successful, because when they opened the door they saw my mother in
our apartment. They simply lost their nerve, made their excuses and left
straight away," Marina Akhmedova told Keston on 18 January.

"The very manner of Akhmedov's arrest is reminiscent in every respect of
a method widely used in neighbouring Uzbekistan, when they simply
plant bullets surreptitiously in the houses of people they did not like, so
that they could be arrested later. Therefore I, personally, have strong
doubts as to Akhmedov's guilt," Keston was told by telephone on 18
January by a human rights activist from Jalal-Abad who preferred not to
be named.

"I will not make any kind of comment for the time being. I will only say
that we are following Akhmedov's case carefully," Kathleen Samuel, an
official of the mission of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation
in Europe in Osh (the regional centre of southern Kyrgyzstan), told
Keston by telephone on 18 January. (END)

Copyright (c) 2002 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.