Another desperate protest has broken out at the notorious Dolinka prison near Karaganda, Kazakhstan. According to reports, 8 prisoners cut open their stomachs on Sunday night and have now been transferred to the City’s remand prison. Their names include Luchkin, Mugalin, Abdrakhmanov, Baisaimov, Svishev. Another 20 prisoners have declared a hunger strike.
This prison gained notoriety in the spring of this year after a guard was recorded, by a prisoner using a mobile phone, violently kicking another defenseless prisoner. The prisoner who filmed the beating, Maxim Kozhanov was later found dead. His parents have a letter written before his death in which he worried that the staff of the prison would "liquidate" him. Evgeniya Karush, the victim of the beating, is now being charged with “disorganization”. The original film can be viewed here.
Disgustingly, the Kazakhstan government is attempting to present the prison latest protest as simply a demand for better conditions. Unfortunately this shameful claim is being repeated in some West European press reports. The Irish RFERL news, for example, reports that “Natalya Gorina, spokeswoman for the Qaraghandy Oblast Committee for Penitentiary and Correction System Control, told journalists that the eight men demanded free movement within the penitentiary, unlimited parcels from their relatives, and the introduction of a voluntary cleaning schedule in place of the present compulsory one”.
While these issues are important, it is not credible that prisoners are prepared to rip open their own stomachs for such demands.
The truth is that in prisons such as Dolinka and Granitny, and a number of other prisons in Kazakhstan, there is an absolutely brutal regime based on regular beatings, tortures and male rapes which are organized by the prison authorities. A number of graphic and harrowing accounts by former prisoners that were recently related to Joe Higgins, Socialis Party (CWI Ireland) Member of the European Parliament (MEP), will soon be posted on socialistworld.net
The real demands of those prisoners who have taken part in the Dolinka protest are:
An end to the beatings and humiliations;
An end to the attempts to force new prisoners to join the "Order section" (a privileged group of prisoners who are responsible for the terrorization of ordinary prisoners;
An end to the refusal of the prison management to allow the prisoners to send appeals to the procurer’s office;
An end to the extortion rackets of the prison administration that demand prisoners phone their parents to demand money for "repairs" under the threat of worse treatment.
Protests should be sent to Kazakhstan embassies, with copies to the OSCE, in Vienna:
Tel: + 43 1 514 36 6000
Fax: + 43 1 514 36 6996
Email protests can be sent through the web-site: http://www.osce.org/contacts/ or http://www.osce.org/contacts/email.php?id=67
The Kazakhstan delegation to the OSCE is:
Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Kazakstan to the OSCE
Wipplinger Strasse 35 3rd Floor,
Tel: +4 3 1 890 80 08-10, + 43 1 890 80 08 10-38
Fax: + 43 1 890 80 08-20
Email protests can be sent through the web-site: http://www.kazakhstan-osce.org/contact or http://www.osce.org/contacts/email.php?id=33