Let Them Sew Silence

lips-sewn-shutLet them all sew shut their mouths.”

So says Sheishenbek Baizakov, head of Kyrgyz penitentiary services in Krygystan, located in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia – a former Soviet nation which hosts a U.S. air base.

Whose mouths are being sewn shut?

As reported by BBC News, more than 1,300 Kyrgyz prisoners in various penitentiaries, have sewn their lips together in protest against abuse and poor living conditions.

This action was taken following a recent decision by prison authorities to force-feed the nearly 7,000 prisoners already engaged in a long term hunger strike.

They [the prisoners] are demanding that state prison authorities and guards stop beatings,” a human rights official said. “They are worried that if they stop their hunger strike they will be beaten again.”

However, prison authorities contend that the protest is being orchestrated by criminal gang leaders who oppose new tighter regulations inside prisons.

Kyrgyzstan won its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago. In December, a new president was sworn in – Almazbek Atambayev, formerly the country’s prime minister. His election to office heralded the country’s first peaceful transfer of power; Kyrgyzstan’s first two presidents were toppled in violent uprisings.

Almazbek Atambayev promises to open a “new page” in the country’s history and called for ethnic unity between the country’s native Kyrgyzs and the Uzbek population of refugees which began migrating into Kyrgyzstan during fighting in the Uzbek city of Andijian in 2005.

As in the U.S., the majority of prisoners in Kyrgyzstan penitentiaries are ethnic minorities; behind bars, ethnic Uzbeks overwhelmingly outnumber Kyrgyzs.

In response to Baizakov’s “Let them all sew shut their mouths” comment, the families of Kyrgyzstan prisoners have been picketing the parliament building every day, and demanding Baizakov’s resignation.


Considering that the U.S. has the largest population of prison inmates any where in the world, what do you think would happen if prisoners in the U.S. began sewing their mouths shut in protest?


And being that the overwhelming majority of U.S. prisoners are ethnic minorities, do you think their protest would be effective?


World News Wednesday


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