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ICC Note: In 2016, roughly 70 people were involved with a mob that dug up the body of a Christian twice in Kyrgyzstan and reburied it elsewhere without informing the family. In response, only three of the 70 went to trial for their actions and they all received suspended jail sentences. Conflicts over burial grounds have been a longstanding issue in Central Asia and impunity in cases like this only encourage similar criminal acts.
By Mushfig Bayram
01/20/2017 Kyrgyzstan (Forum 18) – In October 2016 officials co-operated with mobs who twice dug up the body of deceased Protestant Kanygul Satybaldiyeva in Kyrgyzstan’s south-western Jalal-Abad Region. After prolonged delays, the authorities put on trial three men out of the more than 70 people – including state officials and two imams – who either dug up the body twice, buried it in an unknown location without the family’s knowledge or consent, or did nothing to prevent the crime.
On 12 January 2017 the three men brought to trial – none of whom are officials or imams – were convicted and given suspended jail sentences. However, the Criminal Code requires jail sentences with deprivation of liberty, not suspended sentences, for this type of crime. A human rights defender, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals, commented: “The authorities will not prosecute their own people. But of course they will prosecute simple citizens. Obviously those who were prosecuted could not have done it on their own; they carried out the orders of the imams and officials” (see below).
In early November 2016 a police officer showed Zhyldyz Azayeva, Satybaldiyeva’s daughter, a patch of open grassland 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the nearest settlement in Jalal-Abad Region. He insisted the authorities had buried her mother there. The land was not a cemetery. He did not explain why police officers allegedly buried her there, nor gave any proof that he is telling the truth.

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