CESS Statement on Academic Freedom in Kyrgyzstan

On behalf of the members of the Central Eurasian Studies Society we write to express our strong concern over the detention of several academic researchers in Kyrgyzstan over the past ten days:

  • On April 13, the State Committee for National Security reported the detention of political scientist Marat Kazakpayev, who was arrested on charges of treason. He will remain in detention for two months.
  • On April 21, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the detention of Gulzat Alieva, Candidate of Philosophy, who was arrested and is now under house arrest and facing jail time for a Facebook post that authorities said ignited religious and ethnic discord.
  • On April 23, Andrew Kuchins, the President of the American University of Central Asia, was questioned on charges of illegal possession of psychotropic substances. He was briefly detained and released.

These cases – although different in degree and form – appear to indicate a pattern of pressure exerted to prevent the exercise of academic freedom.  In addition, we are concerned for other scholars and students in the country who are reporting increased pressure on their freedom of expression.

The arrest and detention of academic researchers is of great concern to all our members. We believe that these arrests set a worrisome precedent for academic freedom and freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan.   We petition for due process and respect of academic freedom of all scholars working in Kyrgyzstan.