Freedom House Condemns Attack on Human Rights Defender in Kyrgyzstan | Freedom House

Freedom House Condemns Attack on Human Rights Defender in Kyrgyzstan

Washington

Freedom House strongly condemns the violent attack on prominent Kyrgyzstani human rights defender Ulugbek Azimov, and calls for the Kyrgyz Republic to promptly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.  Mr. Azimov and several members of his family were viciously beaten the evening of May 9 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital.

The attackers appeared to have targeted the Azimovs, who were traveling to a family gathering in multiple cars when a car cut in front of them, blocking the road. Mr. Azimov and other family members were trying to resolve the situation peacefully when several unknown men in their twenties attacked them. He and his family suffered concussions and other serious injuries. They are in stable condition, and have provided statements and the license number of the attackers’ car to the police.

“The authorities in the Kyrgyz Republic must conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible for the attack to justice,” said Susan Corke, director for Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Whether this attack was connected to Ulugbek’s work or not, officials must address the aggressive nationalism and culture of impunity that persists in the country.”

Mr. Azimov, a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic and an ethnic Uzbek, works with the Independent Human Rights Group, a non-governmental organization based in Bishkek. Formerly a prosecutor and judge, he oversees a country-wide project that monitors and reports on violations in the justice and security sectors. He is also a member of the Public Oversight Council of the Ministry of Interior, and Chairman of the Coordinating Council of the National Center for the Prevention of Torture.

This is not the only recent attack on an ethnic Uzbek human rights defender in Bishkek. In December 2012, a number of Kyrgyz men assaulted Uzbek human rights defender Shohruh Saipov in the capital after overhearing him speaking Uzbek. There also continue to be ongoing reports of pressure against and harassment of Kyrgyzstani citizens who are ethnic Uzbeks, and of ethnic Uzbek human rights defenders and journalists in southern Kyrgyzstan, which was the scene of violent ethnic pogroms in June 2010.

Kyrgyzstan is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Not Free in the Freedom of the Press 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Due to planned IT work that will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET today and will run through the weekend, emails to Freedom House will not be accessible until Monday, May 13. If you are a journalist wishing for further Freedom House comment, please call Mary McGuire at 202-683-0909.

For more information, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Kyrgyzstan

Freedom of the Press 2012:  Kyrgyzstan

Nations in Transit 2012: Kyrgyzstan

Freedom on the Net 2012: Kyrgyzstan

Freedom House in Kyrgyzstan

Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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