Next Page: 10000

          Dollar-Free Monetary Union: Russia-Led Free Trade Zone May Adopt Single Currency      Cache   Translate Page      
Dollar-Free Monetary Union: Russia-Led Free Trade Zone May Adopt Single Currency by https://www.rt.com/ The members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) may abandon border procedures and adopt a common currency in the future by analogy with the European Union (EU), according to the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov. – “I strongly believe in the future of […]
          Eurasian free trade zone may adopt single currency and 'best aspects of the EU' - President of Kyrgyzstan      Cache   Translate Page      
The members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) may abandon border procedures and adopt a common currency in the future by analogy with the European Union (EU), according to the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov. "I strongly believe in the future of the EAEU, we have a tremendous potential. The EU has a single currency, and of course we will also come to this, but time is needed. We must introduce the best of what the European Union has... we must work towards that," he told Rossiya-24. Jeenbekov noted that "Like in the European Union we have no borders, no border guards. All our nationals are freely traveling across the Union and are entitled to same services, no matter which - medical, educational..." According to him, the EAEU member countries should work towards boosting competition with third countries. "The EAEU countries can compete with other foreign nations. We must work in coordination in this issue," Jeenbekov said, adding "I believe that in 2040, the economy...
          Fugitive Leader Of Kyrgyzstan's Ethnic Uzbek Community Dies In Ukraine At 62      Cache   Translate Page      
Relatives of Kadyrjan Batyrov, a fugitive leader of the ethnic Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan, say Batyrov has died in Ukraine after eight years of self-imposed exile.
          These White Sheets Are a Chilling Reminder of What Happens to Every 17th Girl in Kyrgyzstan      Cache   Translate Page      
The concept of bride kidnapping may seem alien to Americans, but in some parts of the world it's an ancient custom that, even though illegal, persists to this day. One of those areas is Central Asia, where, in the 12th century, Genghis Khan's own mother was kidnapped shortly after her first wedding and forced to...
          Kyrgyzstan's Fugitive Former Customs Chief Detained In Baku At Bishkek's Request      Cache   Translate Page      
The former head of Kyrgyzstan's Customs Service, Adamkul Junusov has been detained in Baku at the request of authorities in Bishkek.
          These White Sheets Are a Chilling Reminder of What Happens to Every 17th Girl in Kyrgyzstan      Cache   Translate Page      
The concept of bride kidnapping may seem alien to Americans, but in some parts of the world it's an ancient custom that, even though illegal, persists to this day. One of those areas is Central Asia, where, in the 12th century, Genghis Khan's own mother was kidnapped shortly after her first wedding and forced to...
          Hopeless but happy: Azimjon Askarov and the discontents of Kyrgyzstan’s post-2010 order       Cache   Translate Page      

A new memoir by Kyrgyzstan’s most prominent political prisoner takes readers back to the violence and impunity that followed the country’s 2010 revolution.

Azimjon Askarov in prison. Photo courtesy of Khadicha Askarova. All rights reserved.

A review of Azimjon Askarov, I am happy… (2017).

“I am truly happy because today the cause of Azimjon Askarov has become a symbol of the great battle for freedom, freedom of thought and justice in Kyrgyzstan.” This is how the memoirs of Askarov, Kyrgyzstan’s most prominent political prisoner, end, offering at least some closure and inspiration for struggle next to fatalism in the face of hopelessness. But this only comes after a nightmarish journey through the suffering, grief and injustice that gripped the lives of the protagonist, his family and friends – and the thousands of other people affected by the 2010 conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan.

In April 2010, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was toppled in a revolution. But it was followed in June by a bloody conflict, now known as the “June events”, which erupted in the country’s south in the ensuing power vacuum. Kyrgyzstan had already endured the ouster of its first post-independence president Askar Akayev in 2005. In the aftermath, various commentators argued that the violent events of 2010 represented the climax of an already messy democratic transition.

The ordeal of Azimjon Askarov, however, is a stark reminder of how Kyrgyzstan eludes facile explanations. The book tells the story of an ordinary citizen and his extraordinary pursuit of justice in the face of seemingly untouchable law enforcement and judicial institutions. That Askarov is eventually sentenced to life in prison – despite the lack of evidence and domestic and international pressure for a fair trial – by the very state machinery he tried to hold to account is ironically tragic.

In a sense, this book epitomises the disillusion and despair that resulted from the failure of the Kyrgyzstani state and its international partners to acknowledge the suffering of the victims of the dramatic events of 2010, bring perpetrators to justice, and begin the painful but necessary process of national healing and reconciliation.

A life dedicated to the fight for justice

The book opens with Askarov’s “cloudy” childhood on a collective farm in the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic. This early life was marked by the constant struggle to make do with the little his farm worker family received in return for their hard work in the fields. After serving in the Red Army, Askarov, born in 1951, graduated with an arts diploma in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Throughout the 1980s, he earned a good living as a layout artist producing visual campaigning and propaganda material in the official Artists’ Association. His activism was initially sparked in 1990, when inter-ethnic clashes broke out between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities in southern Kyrgyzstan. After a confrontation of nationalist groups from both sides over the redistribution of farmland and political representation, violent clashes spread to the cities of Osh and Uzgen, claiming up to 600 victims.

In the aftermath of these tragic events, Askarov noticed the increasingly frequent “abuse and violence towards local residents” by police in his hometown of Bazar-Korgon and neighbouring villages in the Jalal-Abad province in south-western Kyrgyzstan. He helped to uncover and bring to justice such incidents including through newspaper publications that prompted the district or even the provincial-level internal affairs administration to correct their wrongdoings. As a member of a Jalal-Abad-based human rights organisation and a journalist with a column in the monthly paper Justice for all – which soon became notorious among local law enforcement – Askarov advocated the concerns of people in the region, as well as fellow Uzbeks who were accused of religious extremism on the other side of the border in Uzbekistan.

In the 2000s, Askarov’s conflict with local law enforcement and the judiciary was only exacerbated by his investigations into murders in his hometown district police station, which the local department of internal affairs tried to cover up. Among other cases, Askarov and his colleagues helped to bring to light the death of local trader Tashkenbai Moidunov during police interrogation, or the systematic rape and resulting pregnancy of Zulkhumor Tokhtanazarova, who was imprisoned for 7 months for alleged involvement in petty theft. These revelations resulted in local law enforcement and prosecution personnel losing their jobs and being brought to justice, which let the “anger of the police against [Askarov] grow hundredfold.” Thus, when deadly clashes between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities erupted in June 2010, it seemed like Askarov’s tragic fate had already been sealed .

Emblem of the injustice surrounding the June 2010 "events"

Askarov’s story exemplifies that of many people who suffered from the “June events” in south Kyrgyzstan. In the aftermath, hundreds of people were wrongly accused, detained and sentenced on fabricated charges. According to Askarov’s account of events, however, others who shot at peaceful inhabitants in and around Bazar-Korgon were not arrested by law enforcement or prosecuted by the judiciary, nor were those who looted and burnt private property. To this day, the perpetrators of these crimes walk free.

The narrative meticulously reconstructs how Askarov was summoned to the District Department of Internal Affairs while he was documenting the casualties and damage wrought to Bazar-Korgon, including the burnt-down office of his Justice NGO. Here, Askarov was presented with false accusations of instigating a crowd of people to attack the local police station on 4 June, when he was actually in Moscow, as well as of colluding in the murder of a police inspector, Myktybek Sulaimanov, on 13 June on a bridge just out of town.

The events that followed are suitably referred to as “steps into hell”. Askarov refuses to confess to crimes he has not committed, as well as to falsely implicate his neighbours in handing out automatic weapons. He is first abused and kicked until he loses consciousness, while his brother is brought to the police station and heavily beaten. He is then put in pre-trial detention, and in turns beaten and interrogated by investigators, who force him to refuse a medical examination under pain of death. His lawyer Nurbek Toktakunov and fellow rights activists document the bruises and injuries left on his body by the beatings. Askarov enjoys only brief respites from abuse while in detention; his lawyer Toktakunov is physically and verbally assaulted, and receives death threats. Despair creeps in and Askarov attempts, but fails, to take his own life. At this point, he confesses to having lost the “will to live.”

Askarov’s story exemplifies that of many people who suffered from the “June events” in south Kyrgyzstan

This is followed by the first court hearing on 2 September 2010, where Askarov and seven other defendants face murder charges relating to the death of Sulaimanov, the inspector. The session is preceded and followed by beatings from policemen in the police station courtyard, with the defendants’ “screams being heard by our relatives and lawyers on the street.” When a special commission is formed to investigate these incidents, Askarov is once again forced to deny having been beaten. He tells commission members that he fell on the floor, an explanation “they readily accepted” in order to “close the case with the formulation: ‘The facts could not be verified.’”

In the end, despite the lack of evidence against Askarov and the continuous abuse and death threats against his lawyers, the Bazar-Korgon District Court sentences five of the eight defendants, including Askarov, to life in prison. While the verdict is based on false statements extracted from the accused under duress and torture, it is nonetheless upheld by the Jalal-Abad provincial court. After more beatings and abuse in various detention centres, which he tries to escape in several more suicide attempts, Askarov is finally transferred to Prison No. 47 in Bishkek to serve his sentence.

Askarov dissects the contradictory case made against him and the other defendants. He argues that the authorities’ failure to collect, preserve and analyse evidence, as well as the absence of traces at the crime scene, point to a cover up by the police and other authorities. The gunshot wound at the back of Sulaimanov’s head, for example, appears to indicate that he was killed by his own colleagues with two key purposes: first, to silence their “disobedient” colleague, who threatened to report an incident that led to the death of an Uzbek man in the district police station on 4 June 2010; and second, to put the blame on the Uzbek population for the violence and crimes it suffered. “That way,” argues Askarov, “the siloviki came up with supposedly ‘serious grounds’ for the justification of crimes against the peaceful inhabitants of the town, and torture and ransom, specifically.”

Furthermore, argues Askarov, the murder of Sulaimanov “was also useful for some politicians in order to distract attention from the desperate situation of Uzbeks, who were killed and robbed by armed people in June 2010”. He backs up his claim with the fact that former interim President Roza Otunbayeva put pressure on prosecutors to sentence Askarov. Then Interior Minister Azimbek Beknazarov also made press statements justifying Askarov’s arrest with alleged evidence in the form of a video recording from the interrogation, which, however, has never been presented to this day.

The dark side of Kyrgyzstan’s post-2010 political order

The remainder of Askarov’s narrative deals with life in Prison No. 47, where he lives through the death of his mother and survives yet another suicide attempt. However, the fact that Allah once again “did not allow [him] to die”, the support from his wife Khadicha and his family, from fellow human rights activists and lawyers, as well as the attention of several diplomats and representatives form international organisations, give him new hope and help him to find some peace in the study of the Quran and in daily prayers. From this support comes also his desire to provide legal help to other prisoners and bring their cases to public attention.

Askarov survives the resentment from the camp’s personnel and solitary confinement thanks to Allah and to the “letters with words of support from friends from all over the world”. In 2015, he is awarded the Human Rights Defenders Award from the US State Department which, unfortunately, brings him back to the attention of the security services and the authorities, who use it as a pretext to terminate the Kyrgyzstan-US cooperation agreement.

This, and the fact that Askarov’s wife was apparently followed on her way to a 2015 film festival in Bishkek in which his life work was honoured, are only some reminders of the de facto authoritarian order that has emerged in Kyrgyzstan after 2010. The consistent attempts of international actors such as the EU or the UN Human Rights Council to prompt the Kyrgyz authorities to review Askarov’s case and release him from prison have proven ineffective over the years, as authorities like former President Almazbek Atambayev have hidden behind a rhetoric of rule-of-law and non-interference into the judiciary. Even parliamentary opposition leaders like Omurbek Tekebayev – himself sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017 – have opposed proposals to act upon international pressure to ensure a fair trial for Askarov.

I am happy ends in the anticlimax of Askarov’s case revision by the Chui regional court in Bishkek in the winter of 2016-2017. Again, blatant procedural mistakes, inconclusive evidence and contradicting statements by various policemen and other involved parties, as well as reports of torture and abuse inflicted on the defendants and witnesses, do not lead to the overturning of Askarov’s life sentence. On the contrary, he details how the verdict mimics the unjust decisions of the district, provincial and Supreme courts in 2010 and 2011.

What is the peace in today’s Kyrgyzstan worth if it is built upon the suffering of many innocent people, and the impunity of the perpetrators who remain at large?

The final scene, in particular, is surreal: the judges look down in shame, the main judge’s face blushes as he sweats and fails to finish reading out the verdict. It is at this precise moment that Askarov feels like “an absolute victor.” Following the verdict, Askarov comes close to dying from the hunger strike he declares in protest, but is convinced to desist by the pleading of his family, friends, and medical personnel.

Azimjon Askarov’s story poses uncomfortable yet inevitable questions. How is it possible to resume a normal life for people who suffered so much in the “June events”? What is the peace in today’s Kyrgyzstan worth if it is built upon the suffering of many innocent people, and the impunity of the perpetrators who remain at large? How is it even possible to build sustainable peace in the country when justice has not been done?

So far, the elites have followed the logic of everyday pragmatism, excluding questions of justice and reparation from the smallest common denominator of social ordering in Kyrgyzstan, and many people have followed suit. This book exposes the short-sightedness and inherent violence of such an approach, for Askarov and on behalf of many others like him, urging people to reconsider the legacy of the 2010 conflict in Kyrgyzstan and for the future of the country.

 

Sideboxes
Rights: 
CC by 4.0



Next Page: 10000

Site Map 2018_01_14
Site Map 2018_01_15
Site Map 2018_01_16
Site Map 2018_01_17
Site Map 2018_01_18
Site Map 2018_01_19
Site Map 2018_01_20
Site Map 2018_01_21
Site Map 2018_01_22
Site Map 2018_01_23
Site Map 2018_01_24
Site Map 2018_01_25
Site Map 2018_01_26
Site Map 2018_01_27
Site Map 2018_01_28
Site Map 2018_01_29
Site Map 2018_01_30
Site Map 2018_01_31
Site Map 2018_02_01
Site Map 2018_02_02
Site Map 2018_02_03
Site Map 2018_02_04
Site Map 2018_02_05
Site Map 2018_02_06
Site Map 2018_02_07
Site Map 2018_02_08
Site Map 2018_02_09
Site Map 2018_02_10
Site Map 2018_02_11
Site Map 2018_02_12
Site Map 2018_02_13
Site Map 2018_02_14
Site Map 2018_02_15
Site Map 2018_02_15
Site Map 2018_02_16
Site Map 2018_02_17
Site Map 2018_02_18
Site Map 2018_02_19
Site Map 2018_02_20
Site Map 2018_02_21
Site Map 2018_02_22
Site Map 2018_02_23
Site Map 2018_02_24
Site Map 2018_02_25
Site Map 2018_02_26
Site Map 2018_02_27
Site Map 2018_02_28
Site Map 2018_03_01
Site Map 2018_03_02
Site Map 2018_03_03
Site Map 2018_03_04
Site Map 2018_03_05
Site Map 2018_03_06
Site Map 2018_03_07
Site Map 2018_03_08
Site Map 2018_03_09
Site Map 2018_03_10
Site Map 2018_03_11
Site Map 2018_03_12
Site Map 2018_03_13
Site Map 2018_03_14
Site Map 2018_03_15
Site Map 2018_03_16
Site Map 2018_03_17
Site Map 2018_03_18
Site Map 2018_03_19
Site Map 2018_03_20
Site Map 2018_03_21
Site Map 2018_03_22
Site Map 2018_03_23
Site Map 2018_03_24
Site Map 2018_03_25
Site Map 2018_03_26
Site Map 2018_03_27
Site Map 2018_03_28
Site Map 2018_03_29
Site Map 2018_03_30
Site Map 2018_03_31
Site Map 2018_04_01
Site Map 2018_04_02
Site Map 2018_04_03
Site Map 2018_04_04
Site Map 2018_04_05
Site Map 2018_04_06
Site Map 2018_04_07
Site Map 2018_04_08
Site Map 2018_04_09
Site Map 2018_04_10
Site Map 2018_04_11
Site Map 2018_04_12
Site Map 2018_04_13
Site Map 2018_04_14
Site Map 2018_04_15
Site Map 2018_04_16
Site Map 2018_04_17
Site Map 2018_04_18
Site Map 2018_04_19
Site Map 2018_04_20
Site Map 2018_04_21
Site Map 2018_04_22
Site Map 2018_04_23
Site Map 2018_04_24
Site Map 2018_04_25
Site Map 2018_04_26
Site Map 2018_04_27
Site Map 2018_04_28
Site Map 2018_04_29
Site Map 2018_04_30
Site Map 2018_05_01
Site Map 2018_05_02
Site Map 2018_05_03
Site Map 2018_05_04
Site Map 2018_05_05
Site Map 2018_05_06
Site Map 2018_05_07
Site Map 2018_05_08
Site Map 2018_05_09
Site Map 2018_05_15
Site Map 2018_05_16
Site Map 2018_05_17
Site Map 2018_05_18
Site Map 2018_05_19
Site Map 2018_05_20
Site Map 2018_05_21
Site Map 2018_05_22
Site Map 2018_05_23
Site Map 2018_05_24
Site Map 2018_05_25
Site Map 2018_05_26
Site Map 2018_05_27
Site Map 2018_05_28
Site Map 2018_05_29
Site Map 2018_05_30
Site Map 2018_05_31
Site Map 2018_06_01
Site Map 2018_06_02
Site Map 2018_06_03
Site Map 2018_06_04
Site Map 2018_06_05
Site Map 2018_06_06
Site Map 2018_06_07
Site Map 2018_06_08
Site Map 2018_06_09
Site Map 2018_06_10
Site Map 2018_06_11
Site Map 2018_06_12
Site Map 2018_06_13
Site Map 2018_06_14
Site Map 2018_06_15
Site Map 2018_06_16
Site Map 2018_06_17
Site Map 2018_06_18
Site Map 2018_06_19
Site Map 2018_06_20
Site Map 2018_06_21
Site Map 2018_06_22
Site Map 2018_06_23
Site Map 2018_06_24
Site Map 2018_06_25
Site Map 2018_06_26
Site Map 2018_06_27
Site Map 2018_06_28
Site Map 2018_06_29
Site Map 2018_06_30
Site Map 2018_07_01
Site Map 2018_07_02
Site Map 2018_07_03
Site Map 2018_07_04
Site Map 2018_07_05
Site Map 2018_07_06
Site Map 2018_07_07
Site Map 2018_07_08
Site Map 2018_07_09
Site Map 2018_07_10
Site Map 2018_07_11
Site Map 2018_07_12
Site Map 2018_07_13
Site Map 2018_07_14
Site Map 2018_07_15
Site Map 2018_07_16
Site Map 2018_07_17
Site Map 2018_07_18
Site Map 2018_07_19
Site Map 2018_07_20
Site Map 2018_07_21
Site Map 2018_07_22
Site Map 2018_07_23
Site Map 2018_07_24
Site Map 2018_07_25
Site Map 2018_07_26
Site Map 2018_07_27
Site Map 2018_07_28
Site Map 2018_07_29
Site Map 2018_07_30
Site Map 2018_07_31
Site Map 2018_08_01
Site Map 2018_08_02
Site Map 2018_08_03
Site Map 2018_08_04
Site Map 2018_08_05
Site Map 2018_08_06
Site Map 2018_08_07
Site Map 2018_08_08
Site Map 2018_08_09
Site Map 2018_08_10
Site Map 2018_08_11
Site Map 2018_08_12
Site Map 2018_08_13
Site Map 2018_08_15
Site Map 2018_08_16
Site Map 2018_08_17
Site Map 2018_08_18
Site Map 2018_08_19
Site Map 2018_08_20
Site Map 2018_08_21
Site Map 2018_08_22
Site Map 2018_08_23
Site Map 2018_08_24
Site Map 2018_08_25
Site Map 2018_08_26
Site Map 2018_08_27
Site Map 2018_08_28
Site Map 2018_08_29
Site Map 2018_08_30
Site Map 2018_08_31
Site Map 2018_09_01
Site Map 2018_09_02
Site Map 2018_09_03
Site Map 2018_09_04
Site Map 2018_09_05
Site Map 2018_09_06
Site Map 2018_09_07
Site Map 2018_09_08
Site Map 2018_09_09
Site Map 2018_09_10
Site Map 2018_09_11
Site Map 2018_09_12
Site Map 2018_09_13
Site Map 2018_09_14
Site Map 2018_09_15
Site Map 2018_09_16
Site Map 2018_09_17
Site Map 2018_09_18
Site Map 2018_09_19
Site Map 2018_09_20
Site Map 2018_09_21
Site Map 2018_09_23
Site Map 2018_09_24
Site Map 2018_09_25
Site Map 2018_09_26
Site Map 2018_09_27
Site Map 2018_09_28
Site Map 2018_09_29
Site Map 2018_09_30
Site Map 2018_10_01
Site Map 2018_10_02
Site Map 2018_10_03
Site Map 2018_10_04
Site Map 2018_10_05
Site Map 2018_10_06
Site Map 2018_10_07
Site Map 2018_10_08
Site Map 2018_10_09
Site Map 2018_10_10
Site Map 2018_10_11
Site Map 2018_10_12
Site Map 2018_10_13
Site Map 2018_10_14
Site Map 2018_10_15
Site Map 2018_10_16
Site Map 2018_10_17
Site Map 2018_10_18
Site Map 2018_10_19
Site Map 2018_10_20
Site Map 2018_10_21
Site Map 2018_10_22
Site Map 2018_10_23
Site Map 2018_10_24
Site Map 2018_10_25
Site Map 2018_10_26
Site Map 2018_10_27
Site Map 2018_10_28
Site Map 2018_10_29
Site Map 2018_10_30
Site Map 2018_10_31
Site Map 2018_11_01
Site Map 2018_11_02
Site Map 2018_11_03
Site Map 2018_11_04
Site Map 2018_11_05
Site Map 2018_11_06
Site Map 2018_11_07
Site Map 2018_11_08
Site Map 2018_11_09
Site Map 2018_11_10
Site Map 2018_11_11
Site Map 2018_11_12
Site Map 2018_11_13
Site Map 2018_11_14
Site Map 2018_11_15
Site Map 2018_11_16
Site Map 2018_11_17
Site Map 2018_11_18
Site Map 2018_11_19
Site Map 2018_11_20
Site Map 2018_11_21
Site Map 2018_11_22
Site Map 2018_11_23
Site Map 2018_11_24
Site Map 2018_11_25
Site Map 2018_11_26
Site Map 2018_11_27
Site Map 2018_11_28
Site Map 2018_11_29
Site Map 2018_11_30
Site Map 2018_12_01
Site Map 2018_12_02
Site Map 2018_12_03
Site Map 2018_12_04
Site Map 2018_12_05