Activists arrested – Solidarity needed urgently!
On 20 March, several hundred residents from the Shanyrak and Aigyerim regions of Alma-Ata city, in Kazakhstan, organised a protest against the attempts of the Alma-Ata Mayor to evict them and to destroy their homes.
Many of the residents arrived in the city during the mid to late nineties, from other industrial regions, after their factories were shut as part of the privatisation of industry and of land by President Nazabayev’s regime.
Deprived of work and an income, the residents arrived in Alma-Ata with practically nothing. Using any materials they could find, they built homes on derelict land on the outskirts of the city. But now the city authorities have decided they want the land to build an ‘aqua-park’ and a golf course. Sport and relaxation for the rich elite, and the soaring price of land, prove to be more important than the right of people to have a place to live, even the most basic housing.
Just ten days before the residents’ protest, the local city authorities, backed up by riot police, without warning or a court order, turned up at their homes with bulldozers and destroyed 18 homes, including that of an 85 year old grandmother. The immediate mobilisation of about 500 residents, however, prevented more homes from being destroyed. After this, the residents decided to set up an ‘action committee’ and ‘self-defense squads’.
Even though the Action Committee made a public call to all opposition organisations to help them, only two, including Socialist Resistance (Sotssprot – CWI in Kazakhstan), offered to help. The main opposition blocks have no interest in assisting pauperised workers. After the protest on 20 March, at which members of SotsSprot spoke and were elected to the Action Committee, the residents decided to organise a march on the city authority’s main building, to present their demands, and to link up with residents from other regions facing the same threats.
The march was behind a 3-meter long, ‘Socialist Resistance’ banner, shouting chants, such as, "Land is not for sale!", "Land to the people!", "Down with capitalism!", "Long live socialism!" Most of the demonstrators were young and were not prepared to accept that after the 3-kilometer march their path was blocked by a police barricade. It took several police cordons, and then a viscous attack by the riot police, with truncheons flying, before the protest was eventually broken up. Thirty protesters were arrested.
Seventeen of them were held for two days and then released after receiving a significant fine. One young female protester, Moldir Mustafayeva, was accused with the criminal charge of ‘hooliganism’. Later, one of the leaders of Sotssprot (CWI) was arrested and taken to court, where he was fined 110 dollars (or as the court expressed it – "15 times the official minimum wage"!). Now, the police and KNB (secret police) are "actively searching" for other members of Sotssprot.
Hundreds of thousands of people are forced to live in new ghettos around Alma-Ata city. But the greed of the city bureaucrats, and the building companies, want them pushed further outside the city, into the desert, to make way for new entertainment complexes, car parks and homes for the rich elite. The attitude of the authorities is summed up by the Alma-Ata city mayor, Imangali Tasmagambetov: "These [residents’ protests] are illegal actions and will be harshly put down, whoever is involved".
But these sections of the Alma-Ata working class are not prepared to go without a fight and are preparing for new protests and resistance.
Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan (CWI) appeals to all workers’, youth, trade unions and left organizations, to support the struggle of the residents. We demand:
- The dropping of criminal charges against Moldir Mustafayeva
- An end to the repression of other Shanyrak and Aigyerim activists
- City resources to be allocated to build proper homes for the Shanyrak and Aigyerim residents
Please send letters and faxes to:
Administration of the City Akim (Mayor)
050000 Republic of Kazakhstan,
Ploshad Respubliki dom 4,
Akimat, Akimu Imangali Tasmagambetovu
Telephone +7 3272 716557
Fax +7 3272 934710
Or protest by email, via the City Akim’s (mayor’s) site:
www.almaty.kz email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send copies of all letters and emails to:
And also to:
They will be translated into Kazak and distributed to residents.
More information can be found (in Russian) at the Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan website: http://kazakhstan.socialism.ru/