Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Kyrgyzstan: Appeal for restraint as demonstrators seize government building

UN - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed concern over reports that demonstrators in Kyrgyzstan had seized a Government building and urged them to show restraint and respect the rule of law.

Hundreds of people protesting rising cost of heating fuel and electricity today seized the Government building in the town of Talas, west of the country’s capital, Bishkek, according to media reports.

“While freedom of assembly is an essential element of any democratic society, the rule of law must be respected,” Mr. Ban stressed. He appealed for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

The Secretary-General visited Kyrgyzstan on Saturday and stressed the need to protect all human rights, including free speech and press freedom, in the Central Asian country.

“For the UN, the protection of human rights is a bedrock principle if a country is to prosper,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the Kyrgyz Parliament. “Recent events have been troubling, including the last few days,” he added.

Media reports have noted restrictions on the freedom of expression and the press in the country, including the recent closure of an opposition newspaper and other media outlets.

Mr. Ban also raised the issue when he met Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov in Bishkek.

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