Sentencing to life imprisonment of Mr. Azimjan Azkarov - KGZ 001 / 0910 / OBS 109

17/09/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing to life imprisonment of Mr. Azimjan Azkarov, well-known ethnic Uzbek defender and Director of the human rights organisation “Vozdukh” (Air) based in the city of Bazar Korgon, in Kyrgyzstan’s Jalalabad region.

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kyrgyzstan.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on September 15, Mr. Azkarov was sentenced to life imprisonment, in relation to the murder of the policeman Myktybek Sulaimanov, on June 12, during violent clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the village of Bazar-Korgon, and for organising mass disorder and inciting inter-ethnic hatred. Other ethnic Uzbeks were also sentenced to long-term imprisonment.

Mr. Azkarov and the other defendants had pleaded not guilty during the trial. His lawyer, Mr. Nurbek Toktakunov, had asked for a medical exam as his client suffered a bruised eye. The exam had been denied. Interrogated by the judge, Mr. Azkarov had declared that he had not been beaten by the police but only felt down and hit the back of another defendant while being brought to the court on a previous occasion. This declaration had intervened, however, while members of his family and human rights organisations had claimed that Mr. Askarov had been beaten by prison guards during his custody.

Mr. Askarov was arrested on the evening of June 15, 2010 by agents of Bazar Korgon police department for allegedly having urged ethnic Uzbeks, along with other leaders of the Uzbek community, to take as an hostage the district official Mr. A. Artykov, for having ordered the blockade of the Bishkek-Osh Highway along with 500 armed protesters, and having attacked police officers causing the death of one of them, Mr. Sulaimanov.

The Observatory condemns the sentencing of Mr. Azimjan Azkarov, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, in particular his investigation on the human rights violations committed during the June clashes[1]. The Observatory calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and recalls that any report of ill-treatments while in detention should be duly investigated.

The Observatory finally recalls that as a participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Kyrgyzstan acknowledges that “the [1998] UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [... places] a responsibility [...] on States to adopt and implement adequate legislation and administrative procedures that would provide for a conducive environment for human rights defenders to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and recognises “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”[2].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Kyrgyzstan, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Azimjan Azkarov and all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level- against Mr. Askarov, as well as against all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- Article 6, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems”,

- Article 9.1 which states that “in the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights”,

- and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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”.

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

Addresses:

· Ms. Rosa OTUNBAEVA, President and Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, Fax: + 996312626191

· Colonel Zarylbek RYSALIEV, Minister of Internal Affairs, Fax: + 996312682044 / + 996312623853 / Email: press@mail.mvd.kg

· Ms. Aida SALYANOVA, Minister of Justice, Phone number: + 996312656511

· Mr. Lt. Gen. Kubatbek BAIBOLOV, Public Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz of Republic, Fax: +996312661734

· Permanent mission of Kyrgyzstan, Rue Maunoir 26, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland, Email: kyrgyzmission@bluewin.ch, Fax: +41 22 707.92.21

· Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Brussels, 47 rue de l’Abbaye, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 18 68 / + 32 2 640 38 83, Fax: + 32 2 640 01 31, Email: aitmatov@infonie.be

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Kyrgyzstan in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 16, 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

* E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
* Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
* Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] In June 2010, violent clashes erupted between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, reportedly resulting in over 1,500 deaths and the displacement of over 400,000 persons.

[2] Cf. OP 6 & OP 8 of the Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 10, 2007.

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