Kazakhstan: Jailed Yevgeni Zhovtis Receives Award
Yevgeni Zhovtis has been one of the most prominent and influential human rights defenders in Kazakhstan since the early 1990s. He was director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR), but was involved in a lot of other activities in addition, both in Kazakhstan and internationally. Over the years, Zhovtis has received several awards for his work in human rights defense, including the 1998 USA and European Union Democracy and Civil Society Award, the 1999 International League for Human Rights Award, the 2005 International Helsinki Federation Recognition Award, the 2007 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Human Rights Award, and the 2010 Norwegian Helsinki Committee Sakharov Freedom Award.
Labour campIn September 2009 Zhovtis was convicted to four years in a labour camp for ‘vehicular manslaughter’ in connection with a traffic accident in July 2009 that killed a pedestrian. Fellow human rights defenders and international organizations, including Hivos, believed Zhovtis’s trial to be a politically motivated unfair trial, to punish Zhovtis for his persistent human rights defense work and for criticizing the government on several occasions. Protests from the domestic human rights defenders and international organizations and have not been successful. Zhovtis is currently serving his prison term in a penal colony settlement in Ust-Kamenogorsk.
Hivos has been in close contact with Yevgeni Zhovtis since 1993. Hivos supported the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) from 2000 to 2009.
Film festivalThe One World Kyrgyzstan international film festival (“Bir Duino” in Kyrgyz language) is an annual human rights documentary film festival (since 2007), organized by Human Rights Centre ‘Citizens Against Corruption’. The festival travels through Central Asia. It was held in Kyrgyzstan from 27 September to 2 October 2011. The One World Kyrgyzstan international film festival is one of the sister festivals of the Chech “Jeden svet” human rights documentary film festival. Hivos is one of the sponsors of the One World Kyrgyzstan international film festival. Besides the festival, Hivos also supports the core work of Citizens Against Corruption (since 2004).