The anniversary on Friday 16th December of the Zhanaozen massacre in Kazakhstan in 2011 was marked around the world by protests to embassies and within Kazakhstan itself by groups of activists coming onto the squares and being surrounded by anxious police. In Paris, a member of the embassy staff actually came (nervously) to the door to receive a message in French for the ambassador, Nurlan Zh. Danenov.
In London, 20 trade unionists and socialists from around the country signed letters on behalf of activists in their region which were then taken to the Embassy near Trafalgar Square. No-one would come to the door to receive them personally, but the message was clearly understood. “We will not forget or forgive” and the campaign to end the Nazarbayev dictatorship will continue.
Similar messages were delivered to embassies as far apart as Canada and India, Australia and Sweden. In Austria the message for Nazarbayev was: “We will not stop telling about the crimes and corruption of your regime as we have been doing in Austria when you visited Vienna in 2012”!
In Germany, the protest message finished: Es ist Zeit für Ihren Rücktritt und für wirklich demokratisch abgehaltene Wahlen, sowie die volle und sofortige Anwendung demokratischer Grund- und Menschenrechte. And was signed by: Inge Höger, MdB (Die LINKE) Lucy Redler, Mitglied des Parteivorstands Die LINKE Sebastian Rave, Mitglied des Landesvorstands Die LINKE Bremen Jens Jaschik, Sprecher der linksjugend [‘solid] Nordrhein-Westfalen Alexandra Arnsburg, Mitglied des ver.di Landesbezirksvorstand Berlin-Brandenburg Simon Aulepp, Vorsitzender der GEW Kassel.
Class fighters in Scotland and Ireland made their views clear in letters to the dictatorship’s diplomats. Socialists and trade unionists elsewhere individually sent their own messages to Nazarbayev. All messages included demands for the release of every political prisoner with all charges dropped and demands for basic democratic freedoms, including the right to demonstrate peacefully, to be observed by the regime.
Friday 16th in Kazakhstan is the day on which national independence is usually celebrated with some public activities. This year there was little sign of them, even in the capital Astana. Instead, police forces were mobilised to public spaces where commemorations are usually held to honour popular heroes. In Almaty, a number of different groups of activists assembled to remember the martyrs of Zhanaozen. In other cities groups, sometimes of just a handful of brave individuals came together, only to find themselves vastly outnumbered by police. The nervousness of the regime was indicated by the use of police vehicles to block entrances to parks. The wariness of the Nazarbayev dictatorship was also clearly expressed in the decision obviously taken at the highest level not to have the usual public celebrations of National Independence Day - 16th December. This year, the public holiday festivities are being held today - Monday 19th December!