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Kyrgyz union leader Eldar Tadjibaev must be released!

18 January, 2024As the space for freedom of association in Kyrgyzstan is shrinking, IndustriALL is urging the ILO and the European Commission to intervene, reiterating the call to the President of Kyrgyzstan to release Eldar Tadjibaev from detention.

In December last year, the State Committee for National Security detained two deputy chairs of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FTUK), as well as several chairs of sectoral unions, including Eldar Tadjibaev, chair of IndustriALL affiliate, the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK). On 28 December, a criminal court extended the detention of Eldar Tadjibaev and other union leaders until 28 February.

The situation has continued to deteriorate over the past month, and IndustriALL has brought it to the attention of the European Commission, as well as updating the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to Kyrgyz unions, after these arrests, law enforcement agencies have used intimidation and threats of further arrests to force all union chairs to leave their posts. As a result, all chairs of sectoral unions and all FTUK vice-presidents have resigned.

On 29 December, all members of the FTUK Council voted, presumably under the pressure from the state, to transfer FTUK-owned health centres for the temporary free use of the Presidential administration, in accordance with a Presidential decree dated 22 November 2023.

Moreover, a decision was made to hold an extraordinary FTUK Congress on 15 February. Under the current circumstances, given the enormous pressure on trade unions in Kyrgyzstan, the extraordinary FTUK Congress will presumably not be able to conduct a democratic and fair election of the trade union leadership, without direct interference from the state.

Under the banner of fighting corruption, law enforcement agencies in Kyrgyzstan are interfering in unions' internal affairs to seize union property and replace all leaders of sectoral trade unions with people loyal to the authorities.

IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie, says:

“We consider the arrest of Eldar Tadjibaev, an active and progressive trade union leader who has has always been at the forefront of fight against violations of labour rights, a way by the state to deprive Kyrgyz workers of their legitimate voice through their unions and intimidate all union leaders."