Azimjan Askarov is a prominent human rights defender in Kyrgyzstan and founder of the human rights organization Vozdukh (Air). He has worked to investigate and report cases of police abuse and poor prison conditions, and as a result was targeted by the authorities who charged him with murdering a policeman during clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010.


For three days I was beaten….. punched….. kicked….. humiliated.
I was taken for questioning.
A policeman stood on either side of me and each time I denied a charge they punched me in the side of my stomach. I was charged with killing a policeman.
They took me to see the Deputy Prosecutor Jamila.
She picked up a book and said “Azimjan, this is the book you always carried – the book you used in your complaints against policemen, when you asked me to prosecute them. Well this book closes here – there is another code in this building.”
At that point they took me back to the station and the beating continued.
Eventually I was brought to trial and convicted.
Even the state’s own ombudsman acknowledged that the charges were purely political and there was no evidence.
The framing was complete.
I had worked all my life exposing police and judicial corruption.  Now I am serving a life sentence.

They can jail me – they can destroy my life – but how can I tell them what I did not see?