Kyrgyz police arrest dozens at Women's Day march
- Kyrgyz Republic
Police in Kyrgyzstan on Sunday arrested dozens of protesters -- most of them women -- at a rally to mark International Women's Day after masked men attacked them and tore up their placards. An AFP correspondent saw dozens of women detained and placed in police vehicles in the center of the capital Bishkek where women's groups had begun to rally against gender-based violence.
The detentions came after the men wearing face masks and pointed national hats attacked the crowd, tearing up their posters, popping balloons with toy pistols and throwing eggs at the women before fleeing the scene. Erlan Atantayev, deputy head of the Sverdlovsky police department where the women were taken, told AFP that the protesters had been detained for their own safety and because police had not been warned about the rally.
"Clashes began between the demonstrators and men wearing the face masks," said Atantayev. "We detained (the women) for violation of public order." Atantayev said that some of the demonstrators could face fines for resisting police.
Police also detained three male assailants but did not chase after those who ran away. Journalist Nurjamal Djanibekova said that one of the attackers broke her telephone to prevent her from filming the attack.
Djanibekova said 70 people were being held in the Sverdlovsky police station. Atantayey told AFP police were carrying out "explanatory work" with the detained protesters. A court in Kyrgyzstan this week banned rallies in the center of Bishkek until July 1 in response to a request by the city administration.
But the city authorities later withdrew the request that came at the beginning of the country's traditional protest season and the court lifted the ban. Atantayev told AFP that he was unaware of the lifting of the ban, which the city administration had initially said was necessary to preserve public order and counter the threat of the novel coronavirus.
Kyrgyzstan has so far had no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus that has killed 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 95 nations and territories. Last year a March 8 demonstration angered conservative groups, who have grown in strength in recent years and complain the demonstrations promote gay rights.
Kyrgyzstan, ex-Soviet Central Asia's most politically volatile country, is notorious for the illegal practice of bride kidnapping which boomed during independence.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)