Central Asia

The region is characterised by widespread corruption when it comes to accessing the justice system. In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are systematically violated on an ongoing basis. Human rights defenders are under constant pressure and scrutiny. Civil Rights Defenders has been involved in monitoring the situation in Central Asia for years, and strive to support human rights defenders who work in a region where they encounter many obstacles from the authoritarian regimes as they carry out their vital work advocating for human rights.

Select archive for specific country: Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan

Newspaper Editor Freed After Being Held for 18 Years

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On February 22, Uzbek journalist Muhammad Bekjanov was released after 18 years in prison. The onetime editor, of what was Uzbekistan’s leading opposition newspaper, Muhammad Bekjanov was one of the world’s longest imprisoned journalists. He was repeatedly tortured following his arrest in 1999 and his sentence was extended just before he was due to be released in 2012. According to initial information, he will not be allowed to leave the country for one year.

Failure to Honour International Commitments as Askarov Sentence Upheld

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Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Kyrgyz authorities to fulfil their international commitments to protect civil and political rights by immediately releasing human rights defender and journalist Azimjon Askarov. Today, the Chui Regional Court ruled to uphold the original sentence of life-imprisonment at the end of a trial that allegedly presented the same procedural faults that led to the Human Rights Committee stating that several of Askarov rights had been violated.

Kyrgyzstan Must Free Human Rights Defender Azimjon Askarov

Askarov still languishes behind bars despite promises to have him released. Photo courtesy of  Ayzhamal Istanbekova, from Golos Svobody News portal.

Four years ago, during two media appearances in Berlin and Bishkek, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev publicly announced that he had no interest in keeping an innocent man in jail. The man Atambayev spoke about– first during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then with Kyrgyz media– is Azimjon Askarov, a human rights defender and a journalist who was imprisoned for life in September 2010.