Zere Asylbek has been the recipient of several death threats over her attire in the music video for her song Kyz (Girl), which was written to generate public debate on gender inequality and women's rights in Kyrgyzstan. In the video
Asylbek is seen wearing a jacket and bra.
Freemuse calls for Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the safety of Asylbek and launch a criminal investigation into the threats. Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said:
It is Zere's right to use art to express herself and the issues she sees as critical for women without fear of being persecuted, threatened or harmed in any way. The government of Kyrgyzstan must protect freedom of artistic expression and ensure
that she is safe and can continue to have this important public conversation in her own country.
In a 19 September interview with Asylbek, the singer told Freemuse that there was a recent, famous case in Kyrgyzstan in which a girl, named Burulai, who was bride kidnapped--an ancient tradition where girls are kidnapped and forced into
marriage--died under police custody. The girl was left alone in a police station with the kidnapper who subsequently killed her. She explained that cases such as this and the general situation for women in the country is what inspired her to
write and perform her song.
Asylbek shared on her Facebook page some of the threats she's received as private messages via social media. One message she received on Instagram reads: If you don't remove the video and don't apologise to the Kyrgyz people, we will kill you
soon. This will be the first and last time. Another private message reads: I will gladly join and cut your head off.
Azerbaijan's government has begun to block internet pornography sites. While this is far from the first time the country has tried to control what websites its citizens access, it does appear to be the first time it's restricting pornography.
The blocking was carried out by the Electronic Security Service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies. The move was reportedly made due to a local court decision, but no further details were released.
In December last year, Azerbaijan's parliament adopted a new set of laws penalizing the online dissemination of banned materials. The legislation referred to a list of prohibited information that was first put into use by Azerbaijani courts in
May 2017 authorizing the government to censor online information including terrorist propaganda, suicide videos, pornography and weapons-production manuals, but also gambling and defamation.
It's not clear why the ban on pornography was implemented, but it has generated some speculation online. Journalist Habib Muntazir of Meydan TV noted that on August 15, a Facebook parody page, Politicians of Ã ayxana, photoshopped the logo of the
pornographic website Pornhub onto a picture of President Ilham Aliyev reprimanding the head of the state energy company for the country's recent blackouts. The caption read: Boss punishes sexy secretary.