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OSCE Joins UN Call To Free Kyrgyz Rights Defender

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.