Attacks on the Press
While President Almazbek Atambayev urged the state council in March to enforce rule of law and guarantee the protection of human rights, he demonstrated little political will to bring about such changes. Authorities showed no intent to revive the Uzbek-language media that thrived in southern Kyrgyzstan prior to the June 2010 conflict, in which clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Broadcasting in the largest minority language remained limited--only one broadcaster produced news in Uzbek. While access to the independent regional website Ferghana News was restored by most Internet service providers, the Kyrgyz government failed to repeal the June 2011 ban that recommended the outlet be blocked in connection with its coverage of the 2010 conflict. As a result, fear remained that authorities could legally block the website at any time. In May, Atambayev signed a vaguely worded anti-extremism bill that his critics said could be used to target free expression on the Web. Three years after the 2010 ethnic conflict, injustice continued to impair press freedom and human rights. The Kyrgyz leader publicly declared his commitment to revisit the case of imprisoned reporter Azimjon Askarov, but no action followed: Prosecutors failed to investigate the case even after new evidence emerged in Askarov's defense.