A View from the Inside: Life in Kyrgyz Prisons | Freedom House

A View from the Inside: Life in Kyrgyz Prisons

View from the Inside

View from the Inside

View from the Inside

View from the Inside

View from the Inside

View from the Inside


Eric Gourlan is a professional photographer who has taught photography and worked around the world and extensively in the Former Soviet Union. The images from A View from the Inside captured by Gourlan highlight the conditions in Kyrgyzstani prisons which cannot be reflected in words alone. Through the cooperation and support of the State Service for Execution and Punishment (GSIN), the OSCE Center in Bishkek, the United States Agency for International Development, and the GSIN Public Oversight Council, Gourlan spent over a month in juvenile, women’s and men’s prisons, documenting what he saw. The time spent in the prisons allowed for him to develop unparalleled trust, access, and acceptance with the inmates and guards and to give those on the outside a unique look inside Kyrgyzstan’s prisons.


Torture in Kyrgyzstani Prisons and Azimzhan Askarov's Story
Freedom House works closely with Kyrgyzstani and international partner organizations to improve prison conditions in Kyrgyzstan. One major challenge is widespread mistreatment and use of torture in prisons and other detention facilities across the country. The case of Azimzhan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek human rights defender serving a life sentence in prison, shows how torture compounds the tragedy of poor prison conditions in Kyrgyzstan. Askarov was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of complicity in the murder of an ethnic Kyrgyz policeman. His lawyers proclaim his innocence, but their appeals to the Supreme Court were denied in 2011 and 2013. The case against Askarov was riddled with due process violations. During his detention, Askarov has suffered terrible mistreatment and torture. Below is a video sharing his story.

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.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.