Ms. General Prosecutor,
We are writing to express our concern regarding the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Azimjan Askarov, sentenced to life imprisonment, and the refusal on July 11, 2012 of the Jalal-Abad Regional Prosecutor’s Office to allow the resumption of the investigation, after new facts were brought to its knowledge.
Mr. Askarov was arrested on June 15, 2010 by agents of the police department of Bazar Korgon, South of Kyrgyzstan, for having allegedly: urged ethnic Uzbeks, along with other leaders of the Uzbek community, to take the district official, Mr. A. Artykov, hostage; ordered the blockade of the Bishkek-Osh Highway by some 500 armed protesters, and attacked police officers causing the death of one of them, Mr. Sulaimanov. On December 20, 2011, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court upheld the sentence to life imprisonment of Mr. Azimjan Askarov following obvious violations of fair trial standards.
However, in February and March 2012, two lawyers of the Human Rights Centre “Citizens against corruption”, Messrs. Valeryan Khalitov and Husanbay Saliyev, together with lawyer Evgenia Krapivina, collected a series of testimonies of witnesses of the events of Bazar Korgon. They interrogated local inhabitants, collected videotaped statements as well as written statements which were certified by a notary. All of the witnesses unanimously asserted that Mr. Askarov was not present on the bridge where Mr. Suleimanov was assassinated.
The Observatory was also informed that Mr. Askarov has been allowed to consult a psychologist since June 20, 2012, who confirmed that Mr. Askarov is affected by a number of health problems as a result of pressures exercised against him in the aftermath of his incarceration, the confiscation of his property and endless investigations into this case. Mr. Askarov will only be allowed to benefit from the support of this psychologist for one month, as decided by the Public Service of Execution of Punishment (Государственная служба исполнения наказаний). However, the latter requires psychological and broader medical care for a longer period, as he has also been suffering from persistent visual loss, a traumatic brain injury, and a spinal injury as a result of ill-treatments. He further requires immediate assessment of chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms which strongly suggest a coronary artery disease which could be life threatening if not immediately treated.
Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon you and your Office, Ms. General Prosecutor, to:
take all necessary measures to immediately reopen the case of Mr. Askarov, so that new effective, impartial and transparent investigations be carried out in the light of the additional above-mentioned elements;
ensure that any upcoming hearing in this case be governed by fair trial standards in compliance with international human rights law, considering in particular that any statement made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings;
guarantee the security of human rights defenders and lawyers working on that case, of witnesses who have accepted to be involved in these proceedings, and more generally of all human rights defenders, in compliance with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
ensure that your Office and that of the Jalal-Abad Regional Prosecutor’s Office comply with all the provisions of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic of June 17, 2009 in the execution of their mandate;
take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Askarov;
take all necessary measures to provide Mr. Askarov with all the medical care he requires in adequate medical facilities.
In the hope that you will take these elements into account,
Souhayr BELHASSEN Gerald STABEROCK
FIDH President OMCT Secretary General
 See, inter alia, Observatory Press Release of December 22, 2011.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CASE OF MR. AZIMJAN ASKAROV, SEE VIDEO TESTIMONY OF MS. AIDA BAYDZHHUMANOVA, Executive Director Human Rights Center “Citizens Against Corruption” (24 May 2011)