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  • Дата: 3-09-2018, 17:48

BLACK LISTS FOR JOURNALISTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN KYRGYZSTAN

 3-09-2018, 17:48    Категория: English » News


Inga Sikorskaia was closely checked at the border 19 times.

Inga, a program director for the School of Peacemaking and Media Technology in Central Asia is constantly detained by the border control bodies when passing through passport control at Kyrgyzstan’s border.

 

She specialises in investigative journalism, media studies for freedom of expression, trainings for journalists and activists on countering hate speech and extremists’ propaganda in the media, public discourse, including in conflict areas. Sikorskaia has told to Kaktus.media about the border checks her person during her business trips she has faced for 19 times this year.

 

"The order was to inform!” a border officer said when he was verifying my data in the electronic system after I showed him my passport at the control zone at the International Manas Airport in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on June 16, 2018. Then they took my passport somewhere without explanation. Nobody explained anything to me. When they gave my passport back after half an hour and I was checked again, the story repeated. The border officer said that my document needed to be checked again. In fact, I went through the border control procedure twice. They gave me the document only after I made a phone call to my colleague who addressed the border service. I passed through passport control when boarding was almost complete.

Moreover, after this complicated check, the photo on my international passport was damaged ­– ripped off by one third. But I learned about this later: I did not check the passport pages because I was in a hurry to board the plane. Upon arrival in Almaty, the Kazakh border officer pointed out this defect to me and agreed to let me in only after I had shown my internal passport to him.

It was for the 19th time since May 2017, when I was thoroughly checked at checkpoints, where my name was blacklisted, or as local border officers call it, a "secondary” special register.

 

I don’t mean those whose freedom of movement can be restricted by law, for example, during an investigation, or those debtors who are under travel restrictions, offenders or child support payers. After all, neither my organisation nor I am involved in any court cases. It seems that our country makes blacklists based on the experience of neighbouring repressive states, and listing independent journalists, civil activists, and human rights defenders there.

 

From my experience when I worked as a senior editor on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, I remember great problems of my colleagues from these countries who were on the blacklist. As a result, they are either restricted to leave the country for many years, or are exposed to direct violation of their civil rights upon leaving or returning to the country.

 

All of my 19 cases when it took me a long time to pass passport control, when officers asked me to step aside, sit and wait (until my border crossing was agreed and registered?), I travelled from Kyrgyzstan to Europe and Central Asian countries to international conferences organised by the OSCE , UN, other international and partner organisations. I delivered reports on the freedom of expression, xenophobia and countering the propaganda of extremism there, presented media researches, held trainings on the tools of monitoring the right to non-discrimination in the public sphere, trainings for journalists, researchers, and human rights activists.

 

This March, during my trip to Brussels for an OSCE/ODIHR event, in addition to time-consuming examination and scanning of my passport, my small suitcase with a lock that was checked did apparently undergo a real attack in my absence. Upon arrival in Brussels, I received it cut, without a lock, with things all mixed up. Other participants of the event, who saw my suitcase initially at the Manas International airport in Bishkek, were not even surprised. They travel with hand luggage only, also because some inappropriate things could be placed inside luggage and used against them.

Last year, when I was passing the border, I was asked weird questions about whether I had bank debts or whether I was wanted by police. Next time, they took my passport for a long time, and when I asked them to give my document back they wondered, "Why, didn't we give it to you?” When I was crossing the land border at the Kyrgyz- Kazak Ak-Zhol checkpoint in the autumn of 2017, the officers took my passport away, locked the doors on both sides and left me in the room.

I consider such a strict control over my movements as unjustified attempts to restrict my constitutional freedom. I have already addressed the State National Security Committee [GKNB] and the border service of the Kyrgyz Republic, while the group of lawyers of the School of Peacemaking and Media Technology collect documentary justifications for further actions.

 

About organisation: School of Peacemaking and Media Technology in Central Asia is a non-profit organisation engaged in media development, public relations, encouragement of freedom of speech. It focuses on studies and expert reviews of online content, countering the propaganda of extremism, hate speech, discrimination in the media, on the internet and in public discourse, holding media campaigns, creation of training courses, trainings, discussions, including in conflict areas, promotes freedom of expression, issues annual reports on xenophobia, Islamophobia in the media and freedom of expression. Its employees are speakers and trainers at international forums.

For more information see: www.ca-mediators.net  https://www.facebook.com/peacemakingS/

e-mail: peacemakingschool@gmail.com



 

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