Posts Tagged ‘Azimzhan Askarov’

Interview with Lira Ismailova, Human Rights defender from Kyrgyzstan

September 21, 2015

ISHR-logo-colour-high on 21 September 2015 carries an interview with Lira Ismailova, a human rights defender from Kyrgyzstan.

She starts by crediting her mother, Tolekan Ismailova – a celebrated Kyrgyz human rights defender, with influencing her. Lira, previously a lawyer advocating for a wide range of human rights related issues, currently works at Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan – which focuses on defending freedom of association and protecting human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan.

‘My first position in the field of human rights was with an NGO working for the protection of the rights of internal migrants. I then advocated for the repeal of the death penalty in Kyrgyzstan. I participated in a working group to prepare a draft law for reforming our criminal legislation, and on several reforms for the penitentiary system which included monitoring prisons in Kyrgyzstan.’ Lira’s work on the death penalty was ultimately successful in 2007 when President Bakiyev abolished the death penalty. However, this achievement did not herald a significant practical improvement in the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan. Instead, since then, it is ‘much more difficult’ for human rights defenders on the ground.

Lira recalls numerous occasions when she and her family had to temporarily leave Kyrgyzstan for safety reasons. Lira highlighted the restrictions imposed on Bir Duino’s operations and recalled that its Kyrgyzstan office has been burgled twice in connection with attacks on ‘nationalists’. Bir Duino’s activities were also ‘supervised’ by authorities during the trial of well-known human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov in 2013 who is currently serving a life sentence in a Kyrgyz prison [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/fury-about-us-award-for-askarov-in-kyrgyzstan-backlash-or-impact/].

Lira considers that the Kyrgyz government’s moves to create new restrictive legislation, along with the State Committee for National Security putting direct pressure on lawyers and human rights defenders, has added to the shrinking space for civil society. See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/draft-laws-on-civil-society-restrictions-also-pending-in-kyrgyzstan-and-cambodia/

‘We need help from international institutions to raise awareness of the Government’s attempts to implement these restrictive laws and help us to stop these laws from passing in Parliament’ 

 

…..According to Lira, it is critical that, among other international mechanisms, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders visit Kyrgyzstan.  Some of the main aims of such visit would be to observe the effect of Russian-derived legislation on civil society space and support human rights defenders, such as Askarov a defender who needs urgent humanitarian aid.

Lira adamantly talks about what needs to be done in Kyrgyzstan – the Government needs to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in accordance with the UN Declaration on human rights defenders; ensure that national legislation complies with this Declaration, including by repealing legislative barriers to obtaining financial resources, independence, freedom of association, assembly and expression; and create a parliamentary committee on observance of the situation with the human rights defenders.

Source: Lira Ismailova: Human Rights defender from Kyrgyzstan | ISHR

Fury about US award for Askarov in Kyrgyzstan: backlash or impact?

July 23, 2015

Awarding the State Department prize for human rights defenders to Azimzhan Askarov in Kyrgyzstan has led to a most interesting follow up. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/us-state-department-2014-human-rights-defender-award-to-azimjon-askarov-and-foro-penal/]In retaliation Kyrgyzstan has cancelled a coöperation treaty with the USA which has been in force since 1993.

The bilateral agreement that facilitated cooperation between the countries in certain areas was renounced by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev.As a result US aid to Kyrgyzstan will no longer be free of taxes and other custom duties as from August 20. US civil and military aid personnel, working in Kyrgyzstan will be deprived of their near diplomatic status. On Monday, the US warned Kyrgyzstan that if the accord got canceled, it would damage a range of its aid programs in the country.

On 23 July 2015 Tatyana Kudryavtseva of the 24.kg news agency collected a range of reaction from a variety of persons in Kyrgyzstan under the title “Very expensive Azimzhan Askarov“. Interesting to note that almost all ‘expert’ reactions assume that Askarov is guilty with the exception of the Chairwoman of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. Still, there is almost unanimity that the move by the Kyrgyz Government was ‘unwise’ to say the least. Here follow some excerpts:

Giving the US State Department Award to the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has become a real time bomb. It would seem that nothing terrible has happened. But the news about the award was the trigger. It all ended in scandal – Kyrgyzstan’s government denounced the agreement with the USA on cooperation of 1993. Almost all the projects implemented in the country at the expense of American money turned out to be under threat. Read the rest of this entry »

Threats against organisers of human rights film festival over documentary on HRD Azimjan Askarov detained in Kyrgyzstan

October 3, 2013

On the morning of 19 September 2013, a group of unidentified women threatened and harassed the organisers of human rights film festival “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan” (One World Kyrgyzstan) demanding that the documentary about imprisoned human rights defender Azimjan Askarov  – produced by Freedom House –should not be projected. The film festival opened in Bishkek on 18 September 2013. The annual film festival is organised by human rights group Bir-Duino Kyrzystan, led by human rights defender Ms Tolekan Ismailova, the director of Human Rights Centre ‘Citizens Against Corruption’.

Azimjan Askarov is a human rights defender who spent 25 years documenting human rights abuses in Kyrgyzstan until his arrest in 2010. He is currently serving a life sentence after an unfair trial during which he was beaten in detention and denied access to his lawyer. The film festival organisers do not share the opinion of some politicians that he film could provoke inter-ethnic clashesFrontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

[On 28 September 2012, at previous festival edition, the organisers were banned from screening a documentary on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Islamic world, after a complaint was lodged by the Prosecutor’s Office, which considered the film to be “extremist, inciting religious hatred and aimed at dishonouring Muslims”. Following this decision, Tolekan Ismailova was targeted with a defamation campaign in the media and the Human Rights Centre ‘Citizens Against Corruption’ received threats. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on this case on 19 October 2012 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/20249, and an update on 4 December 2012 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/21003%5D