Kyrgyzstan: Journalist Azimjon Askarov dies in prison

Journalist and human rights activist Azimjon Askarov died in prison on July 25, having endured a long-running incarceration since 2010. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns Kyrgyzstan's negligence over Askarov's health conditions and an unjustified life-sentence that led to his death and demands a full investigation into the circumstances of his death.

A journalist for the Voice of Freedom and fergananews.com and a human rights activist, Askarov published several reports uncovering abuse and killings by police officers. 

The 69-year-old was arrested on June 15, 2010 following ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. He was convicted in September 2010 for alleged " incitement to ethnic hatred, organising mass disorder, and complicity in a policeman' murder." He was given a life sentence despite an appeal. 

On April 21, 2016, UN experts called on Kyrgyzstan to immediately release Azimjon Askarov on the basis that he had been "arbitrarily detained, held in inhumane conditions, tortured and mistreated, and prevented from adequately preparing his trial defense".  

Askarov had lately been witnessed as being of poor health. The official cause of his death in prison was recorded as severe pneumonia.   

The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Azimjon Askarov has paid the terrible price for telling the truth in Kyrgyzstan. Under which circumstances was he held in prison? What measures were taken to cure his pain? We demand a full investigation into his death."

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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