BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's Council of Human Rights Defenders has called on international financial institutions not to provide Bishkek with financial support unless a jailed rights activist is released.
Azimjan Askarov, the leader of the rights group Vozdukh (Air), is serving a life sentence for his role in organizing 2010 clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan's south, and for involvement in the murder of a police officer during the violence.
The statement was issued on July 10, the same day that Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev announced at the International Donors Forum in Bishkek that Kyrgyzstan needs more than $10.5 billion from such institutions to implement national projects.
More than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed in the 2010 violence.
Askarov insists he is innocent, calling his conviction an act of "retaliation" for his human rights activism.