Thursday, March 31, 2011 -
Hollywood actor Martin Sheen has taken up the cause of Kyrgyz resident and ethnic Uzbek human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov, who was sentenced to life in prison last year after being convicted of participating in the ethnic violence that shook Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
Sheen has joined with the Ireland-based Front Line organization to raise global awareness of the human rights defender’s plight, the Ferghana.ru news agency reported on Thursday.
“In 2010, (Askarov) was sentenced to life imprisonment solely on the basis of his own confession, extracted under torture, for the murder of a policeman during the ethnic clashes. No compelling evidence of his guilt was collected. This was confirmed by the Ombudsman of the country, who called the (verdict) politically motivated,” said Sheen. “Askarov is innocent and needs your help.”
Sheen also called for the public to support Front Line.
Askarov was convicted with seven others in September 2010 for his role in the murder of the police officer, and his case was upheld by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court in November 2010.
Sheen, 70, is perhaps best known for his role as President Jed Bartlett in the television series “The West Wing.”