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HRW calls on EU to press for inquiry over death of Azimzhan Askarov

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch issued a statement, in which it urges the European Union to press for inquiry over death of a human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov in Kyrgyzstan.

The statement was released on the eve of the screening of a documentary about Askarov, which will be attended by senior European Union officials.

The screening is on June 4 as part of the One World Film Festival in Brussels. The documentary «Last Chance for Justice,» by filmmaker Marina Shupac, is a touching portrayal of the fight by Khadicha Askarova, Askarov’s wife, for justice and his release from prison.

On the same day as the screening, the EU is set to hold its highest-level annual meeting with Kyrgyz officials.

«This is a crucial opportunity for the EU to make it clear that closer ties with Kyrgyzstan will depend on the resolve of Kyrgyzstan President Japarov’s administration to investigate Askarov’s death, clean up his judicial record, and grant compensation to his family. This week’s high-profile screening makes clear: Kyrgyzstan will continue to be in the international spotlight on Askarov until it fulfills its human rights obligations to account for his death,» HRW stresses.

Sentenced to life in prison human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has died of pneumonia on July 25,2020. Azimzhan Askarov was accused of inciting ethnic hatred and murder of a policeman during the June events in the south of the republic in 2010. In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee recognized the human rights defender as a victim of torture, and all court decisions in his criminal case — unjust and recommended to release him. However, Kyrgyzstan did not follow these recommendations.