Azimzhan Askarov

Activist Type
Human Rights

Azimzhan Askarov is a Kyrgyzstani reporter and activist fighting for ethnic Uzbek human rights in his home country.

Working as an independent journalist, he reported on corruption and police brutality in the country, eventually forming Vozdukh, a human rights group. In June of 2010, Askarov was covering the rising conflict between ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz people in the Jalal-Abad region of Kyrgyzstan. While documenting the events he was arrested and accused of inciting the crowd that killed a Kyrgyz police officer and sentenced to life in prison for his supposed crime.

Askarov has described inhumane conditions during his imprisonment including being denied medical care, frequent physical assault, and threats against his family by the police. Despite the severity of the sentence and numerous retrials, no evidence of Askarov’s involvement in his accused crimes has ever been provided. In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee described the charges as unfounded with several other human rights organizations denouncing the charges against Askarov. The Kyrgyz government has remained unmoved on their stance, upholding Askarov’s sentence on several occasions. The country has even gone so far as to terminate cooperative agreements with the U.S. after the latter bestowed the Human Rights Defender Award on Askarov.

Artwork by
Jordan Tran

Azimzhan Askarov’s portrait was inspired by the colors and patterns found in the familial practice of embroidery in Kyrgyzstan. Many embroidered items, including fabrics, mats, and felts, were often used for decoration and practical uses. The art has been passed down for many generations from mother to daughter.


Kyrgyzstan Flag
August 31, 1991
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