International campaign continues!
An appeal by socialist activist, Ainur Kurmanov, against his unjust 15 day prison sentence (see previous articles on socialistworld.net) was rejected last week. Ainur continues his protest hunger strike, along with fellow imprisoned activist Esen Ukteshbaev. His plight has been raised by European MEP Joe Higgins (see below) and by the Moscow News newspaper (see below).
Ainur and Esen’s comrades in Kazakhstan sent the following message:
Greetings! Today, May 6, in the city court of Almaty, the appeals brought by Ainur Kurmanov and Esen Ukteshbaev were heard. The court rejected the appeals, leaving the complaints without satisfaction and their decisions without change!
We assumed that the court would refuse like this, BUT, FOR THE FIRST TIME THEY HAVE BROUGHT THEM BACK INTO THE COURT!! Nothing like this has happened before! And this is already a small crack in the system! Thanks to all those who have given support with letters and protests; they have played a very important role! The powers-that-be have begun, if only a tiny bit, to operate according to the law. A big thankyou!
Esen Ukteshbaev will be released on May 10, Ainur Kurmanov on May 12 and we will be meeting them as they come out! They both express many thanks for the support which has arrived from co-workers, comrades and workers from all countries. Today they said this in the court when they were called!
They are feeling well and ready for the further battles for justice!
Protest to OSCE
Below we publish a protest letter sent by Joe Higgins MEP (Socialist Party Ireland) to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, over which Kazakhstan is currently presiding.
Mr. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
We the undersigned group of MEPs wish to bring your attention to the jailing of labour and human rights activists from the Kazakhstan 2012 movement and to express our outrage at this gross infringement of human rights.
It is extremely ironic that Kazakhstan currently holds the chairmanship of the OSCE when, according to the OSCE constitution the organisation, ’Aims to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; to abide by the rule of law; to promote the principles of democracy by building, strengthening and protecting democratic institutions; and to promote tolerance throughout the OSCE region’.
The arrests of Ainur Kurmanov, Esen Ukteshbaev and Vadim Kuramskin of the Kazakhstan 2012 movement are a gross violation of basic democratic rights in Kazakhstan.
One of the jailed activists, Ainur Kurmanov, was arrested for organising an "unsanctioned picket" in front of the Temir Bank. The fact that Ainur was charged with the same offence a few months ago and was acquitted shows clearly the farcical nature of the charge.
Essen was charged with attending a May Day demonstration and Vadim for allegedly breaking his parole conditions which placed undemocratic restrictions on his activities.
It is clear that the jailing of these activists is driven by fear of the developing movements of social protest and independent trade unions in Kazakhstan.
We urge the OSCE to highlight these issues and to demand of the Kazakhstan government to immediately release Ainur Kurmanov, Esen Ukteshbaev and Vadim Kuramskin and to stop the repression of socialists and worker activists in Kazakhstan
Joe Higgins MEP
Moscow News highlights Ainur’s case
The article below was carried in the ‘Moscow News’ last week:
Could ‘Kazakhbashi’ go next?
Kazakhstan’s authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, may be preparing to step down as his country’s rubber-stamp parliament proposed to give him special powers for life as "the leader of the nation".
Under the proposal, Nazarbayev would get immunity from prosecution and control over some policy. The move, which comes right after Kyrgyzstan’s successful popular revolt last month, could pave the way for Nazarbayev to pick a successor.
The Kazakh leader may be in for stern advice from the Kremlin on democratisation, when he comes to Moscow for an informal CIS summit ahead of Victory Day this weekend.
Nazarbayev may be afraid of facing a similar fate as ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmenbek Bakiyev, whose family-dominated regime was rocked by massive protests against corruption.
He has faced severe criticism over human rights and democracy this year, as Kazakhstan is controversially chairing the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Nazarbayev has already enacted laws making himself Turkmenbashi-style "president for life" and is cracking down hard on the country’s small opposition, arresting several activists from the "Kazakhstan 2012" alliance, including its leader, Ainur Kurmanov.
Kurmanov, a socialist activist who has led campaigns opposing the demolition of residents’ homes in Almaty, is currently in jail. He has been repeatedly imprisoned over what authorities have described as "unsanctioned protests."
Alexei Malashenko, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said that Nazarbayev’s crackdown indicates that "he is afraid. They have the Kyrgyz example to try to avoid. Astana and Almaty are not [as boisterous] as Bishkek, but they are also not as [suppressed] as Uzbekistan."
Nazarbayev has "not groomed a successor, and so whatever successor appears will not be a mediator, and will probably take someone’s side," said Malashenko.