Press release of the PA HRM "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan" 25 July 2021 - the Day of Remembrance of the human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov

Июл 23.2021

25 July 2021 is the first anniversary of the death of human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov, who did not live to see a fair hearing of his case by an independent and impartial court and died in colony No. 47. He was 69 years old.

The human rights community calls on the country's authorities to comply with the Views of the UN Human Rights Committee regarding his case. Human rights defenders have repeatedly pointed out the lack of access to timely and high-quality medical care, poor conditions of detention, which eventually led to the deterioration of the human rights defender's condition and death. The investigation of his death in the colony was conducted by the State Penitentiary Service, the same agency that ensures the quality of conditions of detention and the realization of the rights of prisoners, and therefore cannot guarantee and ensure the independence and impartiality of the investigation. The Human Rights Movement "Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan", attorney Aidar Sydykov continue to protect the rights and interests of the human rights defender's family after his death in prison.

During his 10 years in prison, Askarov, along with his family and lawyers, took part in about 45 hearings in several areas: on the main case, the review of the case, based on the Decision of the UN Committee, regarding property, etc. Each trial took place in tense conditions, Askarov and his defense were attacked and threatened, the arguments of his lawyers were ignored, the trials were held with an accusatory bias. How much strength, courage and patience does it take to survive such events? All the weaknesses of the judicial system were revealed by the example of the life of one human rights defender, a victim of judicial arbitrariness, victim of torture and the inhumane attitude of the authorities.

Is the prosecution of Askarov connected with his previous professional activity? After all, he had been defending the rights of the vulnerable people, the poor, convicts, victims of torture, and representatives of national minorities for many years. He went against the established system, pointing out its omissions, shortcomings and neglect. He needed the struggle for justice like he needed air to breathe, that's what his human rights organization in Bazar-Korgon was called - "Air".

He himself was subjected to torture and ill-treatment. His numerous statements about torture did not yield results — none of the perpetrators were brought to justice.

Many years after his complaint was filed, in 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee found violations of the following rights in Askarov's case: the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for dignity in places of detention, the right not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment, and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention. The Committee indicated that, in order to provide Askarov with an effective remedy, Kyrgyzstan should take appropriate steps to immediately release him and to overturn his conviction. Kyrgyzstan should provide Askarov with adequate compensation due to the deterioration of his health in prison and, if necessary, hold a new trial that would meet the standards of a fair trial. So far, none of this has been done… The government in the country changes periodically, but there are no obvious changes towards improving access to fair justice.

Lawyers had repeatedly appealed to the authorities to release Askarov, who suffered from serious illnesses, on humanitarian grounds, but everything was in vain. Human rights activists persistently speak of the need to implement and comply with the principles of N. Mandela in order to treat prisoners more humanely.

Denial of access to justice leads to deprivation of vital forces. He was weakened, but not broken — we remember and respect Azimzhan Askarov for his courage, commitment to ideals, desire for justice, desire to help people. We remember…




PA HRM "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan"

22 July 2021

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Feedback from our focus groups



Experience should be attached to a law degree

Shakhboz Latipov, 24 y.o., young lawyer: “When I came to BDK for an internship, I had no experience in legal and human rights activities. Together with experienced senior colleagues, I began to attend trials, studied documents. Gradually my supervisor Khusanbai Saliev began to trust me the preparation of documents, carefully checked them and gave practical advice. Experience comes with time and cases you work on. Every day dozens of people who need help come to us, many of them are from socially vulnerable groups: the poor, large families, elderly citizens. A lawyer in a human rights organization sometimes acts as a psychologist, it is important for him to be able to maintain professionalism and show empathy. At the end of 2019, I successfully passed the exam to get the right to start working as attorney and now I work on cases as an attorney. I turn to my colleagues for help on complex issues, they always give me their advice. This is one of the strengths of the organization: there is support and understanding here.”



Organization unites regions

Feruza Amadalieva, social worker, leader, teacher: “TOT from BDK is a great opportunity to get acquainted with participants from different regions, we continue to communicate on social media and when we meet at events, as close friends, we have such warm relations! At the events, I improved my knowledge, systematized it, clarified how to apply it in practice. I really like the training modules and the way the system of training and practice is built: role-playing games, theory, discussions. Each person expresses himself/herself. I have become a leader for other vulnerable women, I try to help them and engage them in such events.” Feruza Amadalieva is a regular participant of many BDK events, she invites the BDK lawyers to provide legal advice to vulnerable women.



I became confident

In summer of 2019, Nuriza Talantbek kyzy took an active part in conducting regional screenings of documentaries, helped with organizational issues during the campaign dedicated to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, participated in trips, and did the TOT on women's leadership. She used to be a migrant, worked for an NGO in Osh, and now works in Bishkek in the service industry. She calls her participation in the TOT “an invaluable experience”: “I first attended such an event, and received exactly the information that I needed, for which I am sincerely grateful to the facilitators. I experienced very difficult issues in my life, and thanks to that knowledge, I was able to overcome them, I persevered! After the TOT, I became more confident, began to better understand the essence of human rights, and learned to defend my interests.”



The defendant has passed away. The work on his rehabilitation continues.

The case of Shukurullo Kochkarov shows that work on complex cases continues for many years. After the torture he was subjected to in 2010, he became disabled. We managed to get acquittal on one of the charges; the work is ongoing on achieving his rehabilitation and recognition as a victim of torture in order for compensation to be paid. Trials continue without Shukurullo Kochkarov - he died on 2 August 2019. His interests are represented by his father, Saidaziz Kochkarov, who also has a visual disability. “For many years, we have been supported by the employees of BDK, they have been handling the case of my son, they brought him to court because he couldn’t walk on his own, they constantly help our family: my wife and I underwent rehabilitation, they have helped my son by providing him with medicines, they provide all kinds of help”.



Comprehensive support for victims of torture

Resident of the Kara-Suu district, Dilyor Jumabaev, has extensive experience in dealing with law enforcement agencies. In 2010, he was accused of possessing firearms, and thanks to the work of lawyers, he was acquitted. Two years later, his house was first searched in order to find materials of an extremist nature, but nothing was found. In 2014, he was accused of possessing extremist materials. In court, the prosecutor requested 15 years in prison; the court sentenced him to 6 years. A few years later he was released on parole. “I am grateful to the lawyers of BDK for their expert legal assistance. I participated in a rehabilitation program for victims of torture. When I encounter violations, I recommend contacting this organization.”


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