Rita Karasartova loves spending time with her children, practising yoga, and sewing chapans, the traditional quilted jackets worn by people in Kyrgyzstan. But since October 2022 Rita’s life has been turned upside down. She was held in a cramped cell for months, had no access to medical care and couldn’t see or speak to her family. Now she is under house arrest and has a strict curfew.
Rita is a human rights defender and an expert in civic governance. For over a decade she dedicated her life to providing independent legal advice, helping those whose rights had been violated by a corrupt and unreliable legal system.
Along with 26 others, Rita was arrested in October 2022 for opposing a new border agreement that risked Uzbekistan taking control of a freshwater reservoir. The group called for peaceful demonstrations against the agreement, and for transparency from the government. Like others, Rita feared that Uzbekistan would restrict or ban access to water, a scarce resource in the region, with devastating consequences.