[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Saturday called on Kyrgyzstan [JURIST news archive] to protect all forms of human rights [speech text], including "free speech and freedom of the media." In a statement to the to the Jogorku Kenesh [official website, in Russian], the parliament of Kyrgyzstan, Ban stressed the importance of respecting human rights of all people:
Robust civil society, tolerance for diversity and media freedom – all are fundamental to modernization. They are essential to civil harmony and growth, prosperity, opportunity. … All of us who believe in the United Nations understand that security has many dimensions. It starts with people. Respect for the rights of all people. For the UN, the protection of human rights is a bedrock principle if a country is to prosper.
The statements follow recent events [RIA Novosti report] in the country that include the shutdown of an opposition newspaper, a police raid on a local television station that resulted in the station being taken off the air, and the confiscation of computers from a video web portal based on allegations of pirated software use. Ban called those events "troubling." His comments also drew a small crowd of protesters [RFE/RL report] that rallied against human rights offenses in the country.
Kyrgyzstan was once hailed as a model for democracy in the Central Asian countries that made up the former Soviet Union. It is believed that much of the media pressure [AP report] is the result of the election of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev following the Tulip revolution that removed Askar Akayev from power in 2005. Last year, the US State Department (DOS) [official website] criticized Kyrgyzstan over its treatment of journalists in its 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [DOS materials; JURIST report].