An Uzbek woman, imprisoned for criticizing the government, has won a prestigious international human rights award.

Mutabar Tadjibaeva was awarded this year's Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders Thursday by the Geneva-based organization.

Tadjibaeva is serving an eight year jail sentence for criticizing the Uzbek government for its violent crackdown on a 2005 protest in the town of Andijan. Witnesses and human rights groups say hundreds of unarmed people were killed - but the government puts the death toll at 187.

A statement by the prize's jury described Tadjibaeva as an "extremely brave woman in a country where standing up for human rights can mean prison or exile." The statement says her health is deteriorating and that her life is in danger. The activists are calling for her immediate release.

Human rights organizations say the Uzbek government continues to persecute those linked to a 2005 uprising in the city of Andijan.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.