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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[25.06.2OO2] Kyrgyzstan considers amnesty for people involved in political violence

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan's government asked parliament Tuesday to pass an amnesty for people arrested in connection with opposition demonstrations this year including three police officers charged in the killings of five protesters in a March clash.
The bill was received angrily by lawmakers, who said those responsible for the March killings should not be amnestied. They said the bill was an attempt to cut short an investigation into the events that could show who gave the order to shoot. Some members of the opposition have said they believe President Askar Akayev personally gave the order.
After the negative reaction, the government sent a revised bill that did not name those charged in the killings.
Intensive demonstrations have been going on all year in southern Kyrgyzstan centered around opposition lawmaker Azimbek Beknazarov, who was arrested in January on charges of abuse of power that he claims are politically motivated. Beknazarov was released from jail after the March clashes, though the charges still stand and a trial is pending. The protesters are demanding Beknazarov's acquittal and Akayev's resignation.
In May, protesters began a march across southern Kyrgyzstan. Some 500 people arrived this week in the city of Osh, while another 800 remained in Jalalabad, according to the opposition. The protesters say they will eventually go north to bring their demands to the capital, Bishkek.
Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev said at a Cabinet meeting Monday that the amnesty was necessary to heal a deepening split in Kyrgyz society.
"Our state is in danger of stratification. Our unified state is on the verge of collapse," he said.
Associated Press, June 25, 2002

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