Document - Kyrgyzstan: Further information: Prisoner of conscience on brink of death: Azimzhan Askarov



Further information on UA: 135/10 Index: EUR 58/021/2010 Kyrgyzstan Date: 12 November 2010


URGENT ACTION

PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE ON BRINK OF DEATH

Prisoner of conscience Azimzhan Askarov is critically ill and was transferred to a prison hospital just outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 12 November. His family and colleagues are concerned that he may die without proper medical treatment, which may not be available in the prison hospital.

Azimzhan Askarov was transported from Jalal-Abad to a prison just outside the capital Bishkek. He was transferred to Prison Colony Number 47, which has better medical facilities than are available in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to official sources, doctors who examined him said that Azimzhan Askarov’s life is no longer in danger, but Amnesty International is concerned he is being transferred because his health has deteriorated further.


Azimzhan Askarov’s lawyer has asked for a second opinion and is trying to ensure that he is given all the necessary tests and treatment. However, there is a danger that Azimzhan Askarov will not be able to receive the necessary tests and treatment in a prison hospital.


Azimzhan Askarov was given a life sentence on 15 September having been accused of participating in “mass violence and murder” in June2010. He appealed the sentence but on 10 November it was upheld.


His lawyer and family members reported on the final day of his appeal hearing that Azimzhan Askahov was not able to eat for over 15 days because of undiagnosed problems with his digestive tract. Azimzhan Askarov’s colleagues described him as looking very gaunt with yellowish skin. His lawyer and family members also stated an ambulance had to be called earlier in the day to the detention centre in Bazar-Korgan where Azimzhan Askarov was being held because his condition was deteriorating rapidly. His family and lawyer were told that the emergency doctor who attended Azimzhan Askarov was unable to give him the necessary medical assistance and recommended that he be seen urgently by a specialist surgeon as he might need to have emergency surgery.


Amnesty International believes that Azimzhan Askarov has been targeted for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender, as he has documented police ill-treatment for several years.


PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Russian, Kyrgyz, English or your own language:

  • Expressing alarm that Azimzhan Askarov is critically ill and urging the authorities to ensure that he receives

appropriate and necessary emergency care immediately,

  • Urging the authorities to transfer Azimzhan Askarov to a hospital outside the prison system if the necessary treatment cannot be provided within it;

  • Reiterating that Azimzhan Askarov should not be in detention but is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately released.


PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 DECEMBER 2010 TO:

Minister of Justice

Salyanova Aida Zhenishbekovna

32 M.Gandi street,

Bishkek, 720010

Kyrgyzstan

Fax: +312 656592

Email: minjust@minjust.gov.kg

Salutation: Dear Minister


General Prosecutor

Kubatbek Baibolov

Kubatbek Baibolov

Orozbekova Street, 72

Bishkek 720040

Kyrgyzstan

Fax: +996 312 665411

Salutation: Dear General Prosecutor


And copies to:

President

Roza Otunbaeva

Dom praviteltsva

Bishkek 720003

Kyrgyzstan

Fax: +996 312 625012

Email: admin@kyrgyz-el.kg

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the seventh update of UA 135/10. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR58/020/2010/en

URGENT ACTION

PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE ON BRINK OF DEATH

ADditional Information

Amnesty International believes that Azimzhan Askarov has been targeted for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender.

He is the director of the human rights organization Vozdukh (Air) and he has been documenting police ill-treatment of detainees

in the district of Bazar Korgan and other parts of the Jalal-Abad region for years. In June 2010, during the violence in south of

Kyrgyzstan, Azimzhan Askarov filmed and photographed killings and arson attacks on mostly Uzbek homes and other buildings in

Bazar Korgan, allegedly by groups of armed men and men in military uniforms claiming to be Kyrgyz.


He was detained on 15 June 2010 in Bazar Korgan on suspicion of “organizing mass disorder” and “inciting ethnic hatred” in

connection with the death of one police officer during the violence that month. On 13 August he was charged with “attempting to

participate in hostage taking,” “storage of ammunition,” “storage of extremist literature,” “inciting ethnic hatred,” “mass riots,”

“being an accomplice to premeditated murder” and “being an accomplice in the killing of a law enforcement officer.” According

to local human rights defenders, Azimzhan Askarov was subjected to prolonged beatings on the premises of the police station in

Bazar Korgan to force him to hand over his film footage and confess to the murder of the police officer.


He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the confiscation of his property by the Nooken district court on 15 September after a

blatantly unfair trial. Local and international human rights monitors said that during the trial hearing of Azimzhan Askarov and seven co-defendants on 2 September, relatives of the dead police officer attacked and threatened Azimzhan Askarov’s lawyers and family, both inside and outside the courtroom.


Azimzhan Askarov and three of the other defendants appeared at the 6 September hearing with visible bruises on their faces

which had not been apparent at the 2 September hearing, suggesting they had been beaten between the two hearings while in

custody.


The appeal court hearings started on 25 October in Tash-Kumir some 20 km from Bazar-Korgan in order to guarantee the safety

of the defendants, their lawyers and the judges. Armed police officers were guarding the court room. Relatives of the murdered

police officer were reportedly less disruptive during the sessions, nevertheless they shouted abuse and threats at the defendants

and their lawyers, held up posters asking for the death penalty to be given to the defendants, threw water at Azimzhan Askarov’s

lawyer and made death threats against the lawyer of one of the other defendants. No witnesses for the defence were called

during the first appeal court sessions. On 3 November the court hearings transferred to Nooken where the trial of first instance

had taken place.


On 4 November eyewitnesses reported seeing several defendants with visible signs of beatings leaving the court building in

Nooken at the end of the day’s hearing. Observers had been asked to leave the court room before the defendants were removed

and so it was not clear who had beaten the defendants. At least one defendant was kicked and beaten by police officers outside

the court building as he was escorted to the vehicle taking the defendants back to the Bazar-Korgan detention centre. Defence

lawyers asked for forensic medical examinations to be conducted immediately but prosecutors in Bazar-Korgan refused to order

any. Human Rights Defenders said that instead the prosecutor’s office held a press conference and denied that any beatings had

taken place.




Further information on UA: 135/10 Index: EUR 58/021/2010 Issue Date: 12 November 2010

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