Human rights defender Azimjan Askarov dies in prison


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                Imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan, human rights defender Azimjan Askarov died in prison, his lawyer announced on Saturday (July 25th).  Defender of human rights and in particular of those of the Uzbek minority in the country, defender of torture, he had been sentenced to life imprisonment.  Azimjan Askarov died at age 69 after ten years in prison.

                                    <p>He knew he was dying, Azimjan Askarov's lawyer told Agence France-Presse.  Weakened, suffering from heart problems, the man had become unable to walk.

A few years ago, the UN Human Rights Committee acknowledged that Azimjan Askarov had been tortured and that his detention was arbitrary. But nothing has changed the Kyrgyz courts. All appeals and appeals were dismissed, the last in May by the Supreme Court.

Tensions with the United States

The courts accused Azimjan Askarov of being involved in the murder of a policeman committed during pogroms against the Uzbek minority. Spurious accusations, according to human rights observers, which in 2010 resulted in Azimjan Askarov a life sentence.

Painter, then journalist, Azimjan Askarov founded the Vozduh association, an observatory of the situation of Kyrgyz prisons. And he had reported the police violence in the political-ethnic unrest of 2010.

His case had sparked tensions with the United States. In 2015, Kyrgyzstan broke a cooperation agreement with Washington after the activist had just received a prestigious award in the US capital.

Considered in the West as the most democratic country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan was then and remains to a lesser extent, in the grip of tensions between the north and the south of the country.

Read also: One year after the riots between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the investigations are stalling


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