Kazakhstan: State repression of activists intensifies

Free Ainur Kurmanov and drop all charges against leaders of workers’ movement

International protests have flooded in to the authorities in Almaty, demanding the release of Ainur Kurmanov from totally unjustified imprisonment. (See previous reports on this site). Now his lawyer is being allowed to see him and he will appear in court this Thursday (6 May) to appeal against his sentence. His ’crime’ was being present as a journalist at a protest against Temir Bank – one of the banks repossessing the homes of people unable to make the massive repayments they demand on their loans. Friends and supporters of Ainur delivered these protests in person to the senior judge of the Almaty court on Tuesday 4 May.

At the same time, a co-organiser of the workers’ and popular movement, “Kazakhstan 2012” was summonsed to appear in court on Wednesday, 5 May, on charges of organising an illegal demonstration on May Day. Esen Ukteshbaev risks being imprisoned for doing what millions of workers and socialist activists have been doing for a century and a half, celebrating workers’ struggles and saluting workers’ leaders who have given their lives for the socialist cause.

This further scandalous attack on the basic democratic rights of workers in Kazakhstan must be vigorously denounced. Protests must be sent to the same addresses as those for Ainur.

Then comes news that the other heroic activist interviewed by Peter Taaffe, Vadim Kuramskin has been arrested for simply attending the conference which launched the Kazakhstan section of the CWI.

This too must be condemned…again to the same authorities. The more they attack, the more the members and supporters of the CWI around the world will protest.

The activists of “Kazakhstan 2012” are extremely appreciative of the world-wide support they are receiving. We are asking for the pressure to be maintained.

Protest at Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

This Monday (3 May), a protest was organised by CWI members outside the headquarters in Vienna of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – an organisation supposedly to uphold democratic and humane practices. This year it is presided over by none other than Kazakhstan and its president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, amongst the greatest desecrators of basic human and democratic rights, including the freedom of the press.

“We handed over a protest resolution” writes one of the organisers. “It was signed by a number of shop-stewards and trade union and left organisations…The spokesperson, who was head of press and public information, said they already knew about the case, and that the OSCE representative for freedom of the media had already spoken to the Kazakhstan representative about it and we would be kept informed of progress. We’ll see!”

Below is a letter sent on Tuesday to the OSCE as well as to the authorities in Kazakhstan demanding an end to the persecution of the workers’ movement in that country. Please raise your voice in solidarity with the activists and socialists facing daily harassment and persecution in that country.

To: the Almaty Prosecutor, the Government (Akimat) of Almaty city, Kairat Mami, General Prosecutor of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has alerted its sections and supporters in over 40 countries across the world about the arrest and jailing of CWI member, Ainur Kurmanov. They are communicating their outrage and demanding Ainur’s immediate release.

Ainur was arrested last week and charged with “organising a picket” in front of a bank, Temir Bank. He was given a maximum sentence of a fortnight imprisonment. The picket was actually organized by the opposition social movement, ‘Kazakhstan 2012’, to protest over home repossessions. Ainur was present at the picket in his capacity as a journalist. Ainur was denied legal representation during his court hearing. We are aware that Ainur started a hunger strike in protest at his imprisonment

We understand that Kazakhstan authorities responsible have been inundated with protests from around the world at this outrageous jailing. It was reported to us that during a picket of the city court in Almaty comrades and friends of Ainur handed over letters of protest from many countries to a judge. As well as this, protests have been sent to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Kazakhstan holds the position of Chair. Yesterday, a protest was held outside the OSCE Head Office in Vienna, Austria.

We understand that an appeal on behalf of Ainur will held on Thursday. We demand this appeal is allowed to take place, that all charges are dropped and that Ainur is released immediately, without delay.

As well as this, we also learnt today that one of Ainur’s comrades, Esen Ukteshbaev, who is one of the founders of ’Kazakhstan 2012’, will appear in court on 5 May for organizing a peaceful meeting on 1 May (May Day). We also call for all charges against Esen to be immediately dropped and for his immediate release.

Until these two courageous campaigners are released and all charges against them dropped, the CWI will redouble its efforts to ensure that repression of opposition activists and journalists in Kazakhstan is stopped.

Yours,

International Secretariat,

Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

See CWI Kazakhstan web-site for protest and solidarity messages from around the world in English. Also there is video of Ainur in court, and much more.

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