“They’ve taken everything that was dear to me and my wife... They’ve ransacked our lovely home and destroyed our garden... They burned down my office. They beat my brother so badly that he is now disabled, my wife is ill, my sons mostly in hiding. They have destroyed us”.
(Azimjan Askarov, June 2011)
Human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan are at risk of persecution as the country’s authorities try to silence eyewitness accounts of the large-scale arson, looting and attacks on mainly Uzbek-populated districts in south Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
Instead of acting to prevent violence, security forces may have colluded in human rights abuses. The government is now targeting human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society leaders who have attempted to document the events of June 2010 and their aftermath.
Hundreds of Uzbek men have been detained on allegations of having taken part in the violence, and according to reports, many detainees have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated in custody.
Human rights defender Azimjan Askarov had documented killings and arson attacks on mostly Uzbek homes. He was detained on 15 June 2010, severely beaten in the first three days of his detention, and continued to be ill-treated in pre-trial detention.
In August 2010, he was charged with various crimes including storage of ammunition and being an accomplice to murder. He denies all the charges.
On 15 September 2010, he was jailed for life after a blatantly unfair trial. His property has been confiscated. The Supreme Court upheld his life sentence in December 2011.
He is currently in very poor health and he is not receiving adequate medical treatment. FIACAT is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.