Kyrgyzstan: Askarov’s wife appeals to world for his defense
Ms. Hadicha Askarova, the wife of Mr. Azimjan Askarov who was imprisoned for life in Kyrgyzstan, issued an open letter. She has addressed it the regional UNHC for Human Rights office for Central Asia, the representative office of the European Union in Kyrgyzstan, the embassies of the USA, Germany, and France, the OSCE Center in Bishkek, the regional and international human rights organizations and journalists. In the letter, Ms. Askarova once again reminds that her husband – a human rights advocate and a journalist – was unjustly imprisoned based on a fabricated case, and he is now sentenced to slow death in prison.
“My husband, Azimjan Askarov, spent 15 years working in the Bazar Korgon District [in Southern Kyrgyzstan] disclosing heinous facts of gross human rights violations [on part of police, etc.] and publishing them in regional and international mass media. Law enforcing agencies have held a grudge against for a very long time. The June events were convenient to fabricate a very grave crime against him. The law enforcing officers did not only detain my husband, but also arrived at my house on the next day after his arrest. They were in a group of armed men and they demanded I unlock the house gates. When I refused to comply and give them photo and video recording devices, they fired in the air. I fled the house. Officers entered my house with no search warrant or witnesses and searched and took everything from the house, including our car. My appeals to authorities and other state bodies yielded no results.
“During the 15 years of his work, Azimjan publicized six fatal cases that took place in the Bazar Korgon region directorate for internal affairs. When the seventh case occurred, my husband was already arrested. Mr. Khalmirzayev Usmanzhan, a Russian citizen, was brutally beaten by police who demanded a very large amount of money. However, none of the culprits was held responsible.
“The interethnic conflict in June 2010 created an opportunity for police to take their revenge from my husband and get rid of him forever.”
Ms. Askarova reminds that Azimbek Beknazarov, a person related to authorities, claimed in 2010 that there were video documents proving that Mr. Askarov was inciting disobedience. However, nobody has seen those videos during the last three years.
“Why? But that video does not depict my husband, because he was not at the crime scene. I swear to Allah, he was at home at that moment and our quarter’s residents could support this [fact by testifying], but they were denied access to the court hearings,” Ms. Askarova laments.
Ms. Askarova also recalls that President Almazbek Atambayev’s words that “there is no evidence proving Azimjan Askarov innocent.” “President is confusing everybody,” the inmate’s wife asserts. “I have over hundreds of testimonies of eyewitnesses and 67 of them are notary-verified.”
“A commissioned put together by Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun investigated into the Bazar Korgon case. It has proven that Askarov was not present at the crime scene [when the alleged murder occurred]. In his speech on TV, Ombudsman Akun asked the authorities to immediately release Askarov. In conclusion he has said the authorities were not rightful to keep him arrested even for an hour.”
An international committee of lawyers documented a number of violations of human rights during arresting, investigating and trying Askarov.
“During the June tragedy, the Uzbeks made up 75% of the number of victims; and 77% of convicts is also Uzbeks. The Kyrgyz authorities failed to fulfill its obligation to justly and effectively investigate into the June events and their aftermaths. Conspiracies and complicity of law enforcing officers in crimes against humanity during the June events were ignored. It has been three years since the event, and the authorities still fail to legally qualify the June events,” Ms. Askarova writes.
According to Ms. Askarova, the authorities, military, police and other special services “must be held accountable as murder accomplices for inaction and failure to act. That cannot be left without a legal qualification on part of law enforcers and judicial system of Kyrgyzstan.”
“Many convicts were sentenced for fabricated crimes, including my husband, and they all must be acquitted. The Kyrgyz authorities should not ban access to internet websites, but must legally qualify the June events and release innocent people from prisons.”
Kyrgyzstan failed to fulfill its obligation to justly and effectively investigate into the June events and their aftermaths. The authorities were incapable of exercising justice toward thousands of victims,” Ms. Askarova reminds.
She is inviting journalists to visit Bazar Korgon for investigating into the June 13, 2010 events and promises to provide “the best help possible.”
Ms. Askarova addressed the European Union and the US Department of State saying, “Before receiving the Kyrgyz leadership for talks or signing agreements, demand them to fulfill their obligation to justly and effectively investigate into the June events and their aftermaths. It is only in your hands to coerce Kyrgyzstan to provide an impartial reconsideration of all cases launched during and after the June 2010 events, which resulted in convictions. Reconsidering these cases is necessary to identify the procedural violations committed [on part of law enforcing and investigating agencies].
“I am earnestly asking you to help my husband, the father of four children and the grandfather of eight grandchildren,” Ms. Askarova wrote in her open letter.