2017: Kyrgyzstan: Azimjon Askarov

In 2010 Kygyzstan saw the arrest of its journalist and human rights activist Azimjon Askarov. Under charges of organising mass disorder and complicity in the murder of a police officer, mr. Askarov did not receive a fair trial and has endured torture and other forms of ill treatment since his arrest. Askarov is now victim of the police corruption and brutality on which he used to report. Norwegian PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee for his immediate release.

 

President of Kyrgyzstan
His Excellency Almazbek Atambayev
Office of the President
Chuy Avenue 205
72003 Bishek
Republic of Kyrgyzstan
psp@adm.gov.kg, oip@adm.gov.kg

 

Oslo 7th February 2017

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 grave medical conditions.

PEN calls 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

2014 Kirgisistan: Azimjon Askarov

Oslo, 12. November 2014

 

His Excellency Almazbek Atambayev
Office of the President
Chuy Avenue 205
72003 Bishkek
Republic of Kyrgyzstan

Your Excellency

Azimjon Askarov is a journalist and member of Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek minority who has spent his career exposing corruption. He was arrested during the inter-ethnic conflict that swept Osh and Jalal-Abad in June 2010 and convicted, on 15 September 2010, of organising mass disorder and complicity in the murder of a police officer; he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other independent observers have declared that Askarov did not receive a fair trial. An official investigation commissioned by the government’s own human rights ombudsman concluded that Askarov was not even at the scene prior to the police officer’s murder and, therefore, that he had played no role in the killing. PEN believes that Askarov was targeted solely for his critical reporting of police corruption and that he should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Askarov, 61, has not always been a journalist. A practical, creative man, he studied art at university and, for the first 15 years of his adult life, worked as a house painter and decorator. He only turned to journalism in the mid-90s, contributing to the regional news websites Golos Svobody (Voice of Freedom) and the Ferghana News Agency. He quickly made himself unpopular with the authorities by exposing local corruption; his investigations into police involvement in criminal activity reportedly led to ten police officers losing their jobs.

Askarov maintains that he took no part in the clashes of 2010, and that he spent most of his time documenting it; he took photographs of victims (both Kyrgyz and Uzbek), made extensive notes and went to the local morgue to identify bodies. He also wrote that he witnessed Kyrgyz police officers shooting ethnic Uzbeks.

The evidence against Askarov is widely considered by human rights NGOs to be fabricated.  Since his arrest, Askarov has repeatedly complained of being beaten and threatened, including during his trial; these claims are supported by independent witnesses.  An examination carried out in January 2012 by the international NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) concluded not only that Askarov’s health had deteriorated, but that he showed clinical evidence of traumatic brain injury consistent with his claims of being tortured. In November 2012, the journalist’s lawyer submitted a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Norwegian PEN

·         Call for the immediate release of journalist and human rights defender Azimjon Askarov, for his conviction to be overturned, and for his allegations of torture to be thoroughly and impartially investigated;

·         Call for anyone found responsible for violating Askarov’s rights to be brought to justice and for Askarov to be provided with adequate redress for any such violations, including an enforceable right to compensation for any torture he is found to have been subjected to.

 

Sincerely

Ms Brit Bildøen

Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Fengslede Forfatteres Dag 2014

På denne dagen plukker PEN Internationals dyktige etterforskere i London ut fem saker som vies særskilt oppmerksomhet.  Årets fem saker gjelder:

Nelson AGUILERA, skribent og lærer fra Paraguay, dømt til 30 måneders fengsel for påstått plagiering
Azimjon ASKAROV, journalist fra Kirgisistan, dømt til livstid for å organisere en massedemonstrasjon, samt deltagelse i mordet på en politimann
Dieudonné Enoh MEYOMESSE, poet fra Kamerun, soner syv års fengsel for påstått ulovlig salg av gull
Mahvash SABET, lærer og poet og medlem av Baha’i-samfunnet i Iran, soner 20 års fengsel på grunn av sin tro
Gao YU, journalist fra Kina som ble fengslet på mistanke om at hun «lekket statshemmeligheter til utlandet».

På hvert navn ligger en lenke til ytterligere informasjon om hver enkelt sak.  Øverst til høyre på åpningssiden, under overskriften «Fengslede Forfattere», ligger protestbrevene som er sendt til de aktuelle myndighetene.