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Kyrgyz Court Says Government Didn’t Violate Late Activist’s Rights

Azimjan Askarov died in prison on July 25.
Azimjan Askarov died in prison on July 25.

BISHKEK -- The Bishkek city court has upheld a lower court's verdict that the Kyrgyz government didn't violate the rights of late activist Azimjan Askarov while he was in prison.

Askarov's wife, Khadicha Askarova who was present at the trial, said she will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

"I intend to fight until the end," Askarova said on August 20.

On July 25, Askarov died in a Kyrgyz prison.

He had been in custody for 10 years, despite appeals from international and domestic rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Union, and individual governments who all pointed out violations of Askarov's rights from the time he was detained until his death.

A court rejected his complaints on June 12 and ruled that the government hadn't violated his rights.

Askarov and his lawyers appealed that verdict, but the activist died before the Bishkek city court began the proceedings, scheduled for August 20.

The official cause of Askarov's death was respiratory problems, but his lawyer said Askarov was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 before his death.

Askarov was convicted of creating a mass disturbance and involvement in the murder of a police officer during deadly ethnic clashes between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad in 2010.

Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has called Askarov's death "a stain on the human rights record" of the Kyrgyz government.