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The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has joined the April 21 call by the UN for Kyrgyz authorities to free a jailed rights activist.

In his statement on April 22, the ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link welcomed the UN Human Rights Committee's decision on Azimjan Askarov’s complaint.

"Kyrgyzstan now has an opportunity to correct this injustice, restoring both Mr. Askarov’s rights and its national human rights record in this regard," Link said.

Askarov, a Kyrgyz national of Uzbek origin, is serving a life sentence after being convicted of involvement in organizing deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and in the murder of a policeman who was killed during the violence.

More than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed in the clashes.

Askarov says he is innocent and that his conviction was retaliation for his human rights activism.

An Azerbaijani rights defender says an Armenian who defected to arch rival Azerbaijan in September has left for another country.

Novella Cafaroglu said on April 22 that Vahan Martirosian and his family had been transferred to another undisclosed country.

Martirosian, who has presented himself as an opposition activist and the head of a nongovernmental organization called Internal National Liberation Movement, told reporters in Baku on September 18 that he had requested political asylum in Azerbaijan.

Martirosian claimed that he had been persecuted by Armenian authorities for his political activities and therefore decided to defect to Azerbaijan together with his wife and their toddler son.

However, Armenian authorities said then that the organization mentioned by Martirosian did not exist and he himself had been added to the wanted list for theft.

Based on reporting by apa.az and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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