BISHKEK/NEW YORK/GENEVA (18 May 2018) – “Fair and equal treatment of ethnic minorities is a prerequisite for a just society; helps prevent violent extremism”, said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, today in Bishkek. At the end of a three-day day visit to Kyrgyzstan, he said this was a lesson learned from UN experience in many countries confronting violent extremism. Human rights violations committed by governments, including discrimination among targeted groups, lead to a strong sense of alienation and often violence and terrorism.
Gilmour welcomed the engagement of the authorities of Kyrgyzstan with the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central Asia and restated the Office’s readiness to deepen cooperation on ethnic, social and economic rights issues.
In his meetings with high-ranking Kyrgyzstani officials, he stressed the need to ensure that ethnic minorities are fully represented in the civil service, judiciary and law enforcement at both local and national levels. He expressed concern over the continued lack of accountability for the victims of the June 2010 violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
During a forum on the security of human rights activists, Gilmour engaged with defenders from four countries of Central Asia. He regretted that the UN had not felt able to invite representatives from Turkmenistan to that meeting for fear that they might face intimidation or reprisals from their Government for cooperation with the UN. He commended the “truly remarkable courage of human rights defenders who work in this region despite abundant obstacles, and the crucial contribution they make to their societies by standing up for human rights, tolerance and justice.”
Civil society actors have called for Parliament to adopt an anti-discrimination law. Gilmour said such a measure would benefit the entire Kyrgyzstani population, as well as the most vulnerable sectors of society. He expressed particular concern about reports of harassment and ill-treatment, blackmail, and extortion directed at members of the LGBTI community.
On journalists, Gilmour welcomed the retraction of some “defamation” cases, which he hoped would be followed by the easing of restrictions. Civil lawsuits against news outlets had recently had the effect of muzzling some of them.
Having heard a number of examples of torture and ill-treatment by security forces, Gilmour underlined the importance of developing a new action plan, welcoming Government steps in this regard, but said concrete measures to stamp out the practice needed to be implemented, including investigation and prosecution of alleged cases.
On Friday, Andrew Gilmour visited the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh. He gave a lecture to more than 200 students of Osh State University on the subject of the 70th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He underlined the determination of the UN’s leadership to focus on youth participation and empowerment, and called on the students of today to take inspiration from that noble document and to ensure that they stand up for their own human rights, as well as those of others.
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2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.
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