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Jailed Kazakh Political Prisoner In Solitary After Slitting Wrists, Rights Group Says

Aset Abishev is serving a four-year prison term.
Aset Abishev is serving a four-year prison term.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The Almaty-based human rights group Dignity, Spirit, Truth says a well-known Kazakh political prisoner Aset Abishev, who is serving a four-year prison term for his links with a banned political group, was placed in solitary confinement after he slit his wrists in protest at his treatment by guards.

A leading member of the rights group, Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, told RFE/RL on April 8 that inmates in the LA-155/14 correctional colony near Almaty had informed her the previous day that Abishev's condition is very serious.

According to Toreghozhina, Abishev, who has been placed in the colony's medical unit for an unspecified illness, cut his wrists on April 7 protesting poor medical assistance and lack of medicine.

"What triggered Aset's move to maim himself was the rude response to his demands by guards who intimidated him, searching his personal belongings on that day. After he cut his wrists, instead of providing him with necessary medical assistance, they locked him in solitary confinement. His life is in danger," Toreghozhina said, adding that her group had called on Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, and the Penitentiary Service to immediately intervene in the situation.

Abishev's relatives told RFE/RL that in recent days he was severely beaten by Interior Ministry troops after his belongings were searched during prison-riot drills.

An officer on duty at the LA-155/14 penitentiary, who introduced herself as Alia Kakenova, told RFE/RL that she was not aware of the situation, adding that "all bosses are out of the office."

Abishev was sentenced to four years in prison in November 2018 after a court in Almaty found him guilty of participating in the activities of the banned opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement and financially supporting it.

Abishev has rejected the charges, denying the DVK movement or its founder -- fugitive former banker and a vocal critic of Kazakhstan's government, Mukhtar Ablyazov -- were extremist.

In recent years, many activists across the Central Asian nation have been convicted for their involvement in the activities of DVK and its associate, the Street Party.

Inmates in Kazakh prisons very often maim themselves to protest conditions in penitentiary facilities or violations of their rights.

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