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About 100 Kazakhs Are Enslaved Laborers in Southeast Asia

Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported the release of two Kazakh nationals from labor slavery in Thailand. In January the country's consulate in Thailand received a message saying that a Kazakh woman had been enslaved in the Golden Triangle -- a geographical area in Southeast Asia that includes Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, known for its large volumes of drug production and trade. The trapped girl had asked for help. After working with local authorities, they learned that not one but two girls were enslaved. Ministry representatives spent about a month negotiating the release of the girls, before they were released and returned home. It transpired that the girls had been duped by an advertisement offering a high-paying job that turned out to be a scam. In order to buy their freedom, their captor demanded $10,000 from each of the girls. About 200 citizens of Kazakhstan have fallen into labor slavery in these territories over the past two years. About 30 of them were able to be freed with the help of the local Kazakh embassy. The ministry claims that about 100 Kazakhs are still enslaved laborers in the countries of Southeast Asia.

OSCE Campaign on Youth Crime Prevention and Integrity Reaches 1.5 Million People

The OSCE awareness campaign on youth crime prevention and integrity, launched in June 2023, achieved the milestone of reaching one and a half million young people across Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE has stated in a press release. Featuring some of Kyrgyzstan’s leading influencers, bloggers, artists, youth activists and athletes, the campaign showcases the stories of these local celebrities and how they pursued their passions, built successful businesses and gave back to their communities, all while adhering to the values of lawfulness and integrity. The campaign features Aigerim Akylbekova, a Kyrgyz journalist and activist, who reflects on her upbringing and the challenges of her childhood marked by high levels of unemployment. Aigerim shares how in the pursuit of a better life, some people opted for shortcuts, relying on bribery and corrupt activities. “Since childhood I believed that I could achieve everything on my own without resorting to nepotism or bribes,” Aigerim says. “Often, people choose unjust ways to excel in life. Many do this out of desperation – coming from a life of difficulty. Still, this sets us all back. Change can only begin with zero tolerance for dishonesty and corruption,” she adds. Meerim Tolepbergen, a Kyrgyz blogger with over one million Instagram followers, is also actively involved in the campaign. She discusses the key factors contributing to youth crime, drawing from her own experience as child of migrants. Children separated from their parents often grapple with self-doubt and may seek support from potentially harmful peer groups, she says, leading to possible involvement in organized crime. Meerim underscores the significance of addressing this issue and choosing a different path. The stories of Meerim and Aigerim, alongside the others in the campaign, aim to inspire and guide young people in Kyrgyzstan by offering real-life positive examples of those who have achieved their goals through legal, ethical, and productive methods.

Turkmenistan will no longer pardon those convicted for corruption, drug trafficking

ASHGABAT (TCA) — The acts of pardon will not be applied to those convicted for crimes related to corruption and illicit drug trafficking in Turkmenistan. Relevant amendments to the country’s Criminal Code came into force on 13 December 2019, Chronicles of Turkmenistan news website reported. Continue reading

Kyrgyzstan: Former President Atambayev charged with killing security officer

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev has been charged with killing a security officer during a two-day standoff between security forces and supporters of the former head of state in August, RFE/RL reports. Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliev said on December 13 that Atambayev had been formally informed that he is suspected of lethally shooting Colonel Usenbek Niyazbekov, a father of six, during the raid on Atambayev's compound in the village of Koi-Tash near Bishkek on August 7. According to Junushaliev, ballistic tests revealed that Niyazbekov was shot in the chest by a sniper rifle registered to Atambayev. Atambayev himself told journalists on August 8 that he was the only one in the compound who had guns and that he was the only one who shot firearms during clashes between riot police and Atambayev's supporters. Security officials were sent to Atambayev's compound after he refused to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in an investigation over his alleged involvement in the illegal release of a jailed organized-crime boss in 2013. Atambayev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following a violent two-day resistance. He was charged with using violence against representatives of the state, organizing mass unrest, masterminding a murder attempt, hostage taking, and corruption. The resistance by the former president and his supporters resulted in the death of the 47-year-old Niyazbekov and injuries to more than 170 others, including 79 law enforcement officers. In other news, ex-deputy of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan Ravshan Jeenbekov was detained in Bishkek late on December 12, news agency reported with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The ministry said that the former parliament deputy is suspected of taking hostages as well as organizing mass riots in Koi-Tash village during the detention of former President Atambayev in August.

Kyrgyzstan’s consul-general in Istanbul sacked following businessman killing

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan's consul-general in Istanbul, Erkin Sopokov, has been sacked two days after a businessman from China's Xinjiang Province was shot dead in Turkey's largest city, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The Kyrgyz presidential press service said on November 12 that President Sooronbai Jeenbekov had signed a decree on removing Sopokov from the position. On November 10, Aierken Saimait (aka Ayerken Saymaiti), an ethnic Uyghur from Xinjiang, whose name was cited in an investigative report by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service about the illegal withdrawal of some $700 million from Kyrgyzstan, was shot dead in Istanbul. Turkish media reported that Saimait's car parked nearby had "forged" license plates registered with Kyrgyzstan’s consulate. However, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said on November 12 that the car belongs to Sopokov and the license plate is legally registered with the consulate. Earlier in May, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service obtained documents confirming that at least $250 million had been funneled away from Kyrgyzstan via bank accounts belonging to Saimait and a Kyrgyz company. After RFE/RL's report, Kyrgyzstan’s Service for the Fight Against Economic Crimes confirmed that Saimait, his spouse Vufuli Bumailiamu, and the company Abdyraz had sent more than $646 million from Kyrgyzstan abroad via 11 bank accounts. The investigation also revealed that the activities of Saimait and his wife had been allegedly linked to a Kyrgyz foundation with ties to the family of Kyrgyz lawmaker Iskender Matraimov. Matraimov has denied the allegation. The police chief in Turkey's southern city of Adana, Atilla Kilic, said on November 12 that two Kyrgyz nationals, Husein Akmataliev and Abdullah Enver, as well as a Syrian citizen, Ali Isbeh, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the killing of Saimait. According to Kilic, the trio was detained when trying to cross the Turkish-Syrian border near Adana.

Man wanted for huge illegal cash withdrawals from Kyrgyzstan shot dead in Istanbul

BISHKEK (TCA) — A businessman from China's Xinjiang Province whose name was cited in an investigative report by RFE/RL about the illegal withdrawal of some $700 million from Kyrgyzstan has been shot dead in Istanbul, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Continue reading

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