Arbitrary detention of a human rights defender

Press release

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Azimjan Askarov, a prominent human rights defender and Director of the human rights organisation “Vozdukh” (Air) based in the city of Bazar Korgon, in the Jalalabad region of Kyrgyzstan, and calls for his immediate release.

Mr. Azimjan Askarov, arrested on the evening of June 15, 2010 by agents of Bazar Korgon police department for being allegedly involved in the ethnic hostilities between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that broke out on June 10, 2010 in southern Kyrgyzstan, remains reportedly detained at the Bazar Korgon police station, where he would be subjected to ill-treatments. He has reportedly not been informed of the charges held against him.

Mr. Askarov was monitoring the human rights violations committed during the clashes and would have obtained a video footage of the perpetrated atrocities. According to his brother, who was arrested and detained together with him, Mr. Azimjan Askarov was beaten, tortured, and repeatedly asked to indicate where the camera records were. Additionally, since his arrest, unidentified armed men broke twice into his house to carry out illegal searches and, in the morning of June 17, 2010, a group of journalists and human rights activists thwarted a third search on the spot.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and the ill-treatment against Mr. Azimjan Askarov, which seem to be merely aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities, in particular his investigation into the latest ethnic minded crimes committed in southern Kyrgyzstan. The Observatory therefore urges the Kyrgyz authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as well as to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity.

More generally, the Observatory calls upon the Kyrgyz authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, and to ensure that they are able to carry out their human rights activities without any hindrance, in accordance with international and regional human rights standards, in particular the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

For further information, please contact:

· FIDH: Karine Appy / Fabien Maître : + 33 1 43 55 25 18

· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau : + 41 22 809 49 39

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