BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Two Islamic activists in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan have been convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, court officials said Monday, after they were caught passing out propaganda from a religious party that is banned across Central Asia.
Abdulla Abduraulov, 42, and Shavkat Islambayev, 25, were convicted Thursday in the southern city of Osh on charges of inciting religious, ethnic or national hatred, court officials said. They had been arrested after passing out Hizb-ut-Tahrir materials at a park in Osh, and investigators later found more materials in their home, according to media reports Monday.
The case was the fourth in recent months against members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Osh, a region that has suffered several incursions by Islamic militants over the past few years.
The two accused were part of an underground cell that had been operating since 1999, according to reports.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir has adherents throughout the Middle East and former Soviet republics in Central Asia, and has called for creating an Islamic state in Central Asia. Authorities in the region have cracked down on the group, raising complaints by human rights groups who say thousands of innocent young men have been jailed for alleged membership.
Associated Press, July 8, 2002