Kyrgyzstan: media outlet website, social media target of online harassmentEvent
- Initial Date
- Oct 6, 2020
- Event Description
In Kyrgyzstan, a number of attacks on journalists and threats to media outlets have been reported since October 4 parliamentary elections, which were voided, followed by nationwide unrest and an ongoing political crisis and state of emergency, according to news reports, CPJ documentation, and a report by the Kyrgyz independent nonprofit organization Media Policy Institute. Yesterday, the Kyrgyz parliament held an emergency meeting and named Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist politician freed from prison by supporters, the country’s new prime minister, according to news reports.
Today, President Sooronbay Jeenbekov resigned, according to media reports.
“It is crucial that journalists can safely and freely cover the political crisis in Kyrgyzstan,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. “Kyrgyz authorities must investigate reported attacks and threats targeting the journalistic community, and put a stop to hostilities toward reporters who are doing their work.”
Radio Azattyk, the Kyrgyz service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and its journalists have faced several attacks, threats, and other attempts to obstruct reporting since October 4, according to Venera Djumataeva, director of the service, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview, and news reports.
Starting around October 6, Radio Azattyk’s website and its social media accounts have been targeted by thousands of messages, both signed and anonymous, ranging from insults to direct threats to the outlet and its Kyrgyz office, Djumataeva told CPJ.
One of the threats that CPJ reviewed–distributed through the messaging service WhatsApp and sent to Azattyk’s office phone via that app–stated, “Repost! Today, there is a threat of attack on the office @azattykmedia. Currently they only have one guard. Asking for a repost.” Other threats, posted as commentson Azattyk’s Instagram page, said: “Soon people will be destroying your office, Azattyk,” “People will destroy Azattyk very soon,” and “Let’s go to burn down Azattyk.” CPJ reviewed screenshots of all these messages. Azattyk reported the threats to Facebook, which said it is investigating, according to Djumataeva.
Djumataeva told CPJ that Azattyk had recruited volunteers to provide security at the outlet’s office in Bishkek.
CPJ emailed the Ministry of Internal Affairs for comment on the attacks on Radio Azattyk and its journalists, but did not receive a response.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- Intimidation and Threats
- Online Attack and Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Media freedom
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
From 6 October 2020, the website and social media pages of radio Azattyk, media outlet covering the national elections, were targeted by thousands of messages by onlije users, including threats and insults in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.