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Blogging from Bishkek: Part 2
Today Noeline and I visited a prison, survived an earthquake, had a taxi ride with a mad driver over black ice, ate a typical Kyrgyz meal, saw a Kyrgyz wedding party, and are now looking at Kyrgyz snow. What a day!
We spent over two hours talking to Azimjan Askarov. He was agitated and anxious. He said he was sentenced but he couldn't find any peace, and was working day and night on his defence.
He has developed asthma, and is held in an underground cell with no natural light, with a “lamp that isn't sufficient for my weak vision.” He told us that apart from the difficulties associated with the underground cell where he “has no air”, the employees treat him well - “this gives me real moral support.” He gets medical assistance when he needs it in this prison hospital.
As we talked, there were a few loud bangs, which startled even the prison officer. It turned out that we had just had an earthquake!
Azimjan reminded us that he is an innocent man, on whom a life sentence was imposed, after an unfair trial. He doubts the political will of his government to look fairly at his case. He wants the full evidence to be revealed in a new criminal trial, and wants national and international pressure to support the many recommendations that his case be reviewed.
He was concerned that he would be forgotten, but certainly for us in Front Line Defenders, that won't be the case.
We came safely back to our hotel, by slow taxi, just as the snow began to fall.