Karasartova: I hope the investigation is at the final stage, but we won’t be starved out

Human rights activist Rita Karasartova, detained in the Kempir-Abad case, gave an interview to the New Faces publication. In it, she said that during the four months of the investigation, she was taken out of the pre-trial detention center to the Ministry of Internal Affairs only once, where they asked questions about her social media accounts.

“The investigation is being conducted by a group of 20 best investigators in Kyrgyzstan. I really hope that it is at the final stage. It won’t be possible to starve us out,” she said.

Karasartova also spoke about the classification of the Kempir-Abad case. According to her, such a decision taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs is illegal. She believes that the case was classified so that “the general public would not see this shame, so that the free media would not cover this shame of law enforcement officers.”

“I know for sure that there is nothing illegal in our actions and speculation around the liberation of women does not honor the top leadership. [Президент Садыр Жапаров] on the contrary, I had to ensure openness so that everyone could see what an illegal act we had committed. Personally show the guilt of each, broadcast the trials. Only then will the people begin to trust the authorities, learn what actions can lead to the loss of freedom. Our words are supported by logic, so through our mouths the people will know that the king is “naked”! He wants to shut everyone’s mouth, but that’s impossible!” the human rights activist said.

Karasartova also said that detainees in the case are denied the right to visit and telephone conversations with relatives.

“Detainees have the right to visit relatives and the right to telephone conversations. But, according to the internal regulations of the pre-trial detention centers, where we have been staying for four months now, this right must be agreed with the body in charge of the criminal case. Since our case has been under investigation for five months, with the consent of the (chief) head of the investigation team, we are denied. Not being able to contact loved ones is torture,” says the human rights activist.

In October 2022, police detained about 30 activists, politicians and human rights activists who criticized the authorities because of the transfer of the Kempir-Abad reservoir to Uzbekistan. Some of them are members of the committee for the protection of the Kempir-Abad reservoir, which was created the day before the arrests.

All the detainees are considered suspects under the article “Preparation for organizing mass riots.” Almost all those arrested have been kept in SIZO-1 in Bishkek for several months.

The defendants in this case do not admit their guilt and talk about pressure, and also claim that the criminal prosecution began because of their position on Kempir-Abad. As a sign of protest, almost all the defendants in the case, demanding to be released, went on a hunger strike, which in some cases reached up to two weeks.

The arrest of activists and politicians was condemned by a number of deputies, and the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch called on the Kyrgyz authorities to release all those arrested.

President Sadyr Japarov, commenting on the appeal of the relatives of the detainees with a request to release the cases, said that he could not order anyone to release anyone.

Zhaparov insists that no one interferes with the work of judges in this case. He believes that the defendants in the Kempir-Abad case were arrested “on time” “for plans for a coup.” According to him, the defendants allegedly went to meetings where they discussed plans for a coup d’état and the number of people at the upcoming rallies.