13 July 2016 - Yesterday’s decision by Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court for a retrial for Azimjon Askarov is a positive step, but the failure to release the journalist and human rights advocate – jailed since 2010 on politically-motivated charges based on what many believe to be fabricated evidence – is deeply disappointing, PEN International said today.
PEN International has spoken out many times before on Askarov’s case, highlighting the injustice of his imprisonment, including the repeated instances of physical violence he claims have been used against him since his arrest. An examination by the international NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) found that Askarov showed clinical evidence of traumatic brain injury consistent with his claims of having been tortured.
‘It is deeply unjust that Azimjon Askarov remains in detention, despite calls by the UN Human Rights Committee that he should be released and his conviction quashed. His treatment by the Kyrgyzstan authorities has been appalling, and it’s a terrible injustice that he remains in jail for a single day longer. It is an unequivocal matter; he no longer remains convicted of a crime,’ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.
‘We reiterate our calls for his immediate release and for the charges against him to be dropped. He must be released, in order to participate in this retrial free from the risk of torture or coercion, and as an acknowledgement that it seems he was unjustly imprisoned in the first place.’
Askarov was an honorary ‘Empty Chair’ at PEN’s 80th International Congress in 2014 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where his wife, Hadicha Askarova, made a moving personal appeal to PEN delegates. During the Congress, PEN delegations raised Askarov’s case directly in private meetings with both President Atambayev and the General Prosecutor, Aida Salyanova. Askarov also featured in PEN’s 2014 Day of the Imprisoned Writer Campaign.
For further information, please contact: Sahar Halaimzai, Communications & Campaigns Manager, PEN International: Sahar.Halaimzai@pen-international.org
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