2019 Kirgisistan: Azimjon Askarov

On 30 July 2019, a court in northern Kyrgyzstan upheld the life sentence of journalist and human rights activist Azimjon Askarov.  A member of Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek minority, Askarov (68) spent his career exposing corruption. He was arrested on 15 June 2010 during the inter-ethnic conflict that swept Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces in southern Kyrgyzstan, during which hundreds of people were killed. On 15 September 2010, Azimjon Askarov was found guilty of instigating ethnic hatred, inciting disorder and being complicit in the murder of a police officer. In March 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Azimjon Askarov had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, mistreated, and prevented from adequately preparing his defence as well as being denied treatment for serious medical conditions. In the following letter, the Norwegian PEN Writers in Prison Committee calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
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President of Kyrgyzstan
His Excellency Almazbek Atambayev
Office of the President
Chuy Avenue 205
72003 Bishek
Republic of Kyrgyzstan

Your Excellency,

Norwegian PEN is urgently concerned about the health and welfare of journalist and human rights defender Azimjon Askarov, who was arrested in June 2010 and remains in prison, where he is serving a life sentence on charges of organising mass disorder and complicity in the murder of a police officer.

The UN Human Rights Committee declared in March 2016 that Askarov had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, mistreated and prevented from adequately preparing his defence, in addition to being denied treatment for serious medical conditions.

It was with grave concern Norwegian PEN learned that Askarov’s life sentence was upheld yet again 30th July this year. We call on Kyrgyzstan’s authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Askarov, overturn his conviction and investigate his allegations of torture fully and impartially.

Anyone found responsible for violating Askarov’s rights should be brought to justice, and Askarov granted adequate redress for any such violations, including, but not limited to, an enforceable right to compensation for any form of torture he is found to have been subjected to.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Johanne Fronth-Nygren
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY:
Prosecutor General Indira Djoldubaeva
Botschaft der Kirgisischen Republik in der BRD
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs