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Asel Nurgazieva
AQTAU, Kazakhstan -- A rights defender who has filed lawsuits on behalf of the citizens claiming police abuse during last year's unrest in the western town of Zhanaozen has been sentenced to 12 days in jail.

Asel Nurghazieva was detained in the western city of Aqtau on December 6.

Her lawyer told journalists that Nurghazieva was tried the same day and found guilty of hooliganism and resisting arrest.

The lawyer says her client's arrest and sentencing are politically motivated.

In December 2011, police shot dead at least 16 people and dozens more were wounded in the clashes at the end of a seven-month strike by oil workers.

Some of her clients say authorities put Nurghazieva behind bars to prevent possible public protests on December 16, the first anniversary of the Zhanaozen bloodshed.

With additional reporting by "Respublika"
A group of international rights groups have urged Uzbekistan to mark the 20th anniversary of the country's constitution with the unconditional release of political prisoners.

The nine groups, which include Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists, said on December 6 that the gesture would demonstrate Tashkent's commitment to reform.

The statement named dozens of potential candidates for release, noting that many of them are suffering from ill-health and have been mistreated in detention.

The statement comes a day after the Uzbek Senate adopted a resolution on amnesty connected with the constitution's anniversary.

The amnesty proposed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov applies to individuals convicted for minor crimes, among others.

Uzbekistan often marks Constitution Day, which takes place on December 8, with prisoner amnesties, but beneficiaries typically do not include people jailed on political grounds.

Based on reporting by AP

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