Kyrgyzstan – Masked Men Attack Women’s Day Demonstration
Date: March 12, 2020
Masked Men Attack Women’s Day Rally In Bishkek
March 8, 2020 – BISHKEK – A group of masked men attacked a demonstration against domestic violence in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the March 8 incident.
Police arrived at the scene after most of the assailants had fled and detained several dozen demonstration organizers and participants.
A local journalist told the AFP news agency that as many as 70 people were detained.
RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported that journalists and human rights activists were among the detainees.
A police spokesman told AFP that the protesters were detained for their own safety and because the demonstration had not been approved in advance by the government. The spokesman also said three suspected attackers were also in custody.
The demonstration was scheduled to mark the International Women’s Day holiday.
The assailants, wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats, attacked as protesters were just beginning to organize the demonstration and hand out banners. The event was subsequently canceled.
Several dozen people gathered outside the police station where the detainees were being questioned, calling for their release. Several detainees, including some foreigners and minors, were freed.
Earlier in the week, a court banned all demonstrations in the center of the capital until July 1, purportedly to constrain the spread of the coronavirus, although the country has not reported any confirmed infections.
A March 8 demonstration last year angered social conservatives in the Central Asian country, who claimed the protesters were advocating gay rights.
The country sees thousands of cases of bride kidnapping each year, although the practice was criminalized in 2013. Activists say the widespread practice often leads to marital rape, domestic violence, and other traumas.
The United Nations Development Program estimated in 2019 that about 14 percent of Kyrgyz women under the age of 24 are married under some form of coercion