Message from Ainur Kurmanov on his release from jail
Following two weeks imprisonment, Ainur Kurmanov, a well-known journalist and socialist activist, was released on 12 May. Ainur was arrested and charged with “organising a picket” in front of a bank, Temir Bank, and 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 not actually organizing the picket but there was there in his capacity as a journalist. Ainur went on hunger strike in protest at his imprisonment. An appeal was made against Ainur’s sentence but rejected. Many protests from around the world were sent to the Kazakhstan authorities over Ainur’s jailing and also to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Kazakhstan holds the position of Chair.
On his release this week, Ainur made the following statement:
On the 12 May I was released from the special prison for those tried for “administrative crimes”, having been there for 15 days. As a protest against the frame up by the government, I maintained a hunger strike throughout my sentence. Whilst I was in prison, Yesenbek Ukteshbaev, leader of the protest movement, ‘Defend People’s Homes’ was also sentenced to five days and began a hunger strike in solidarity. Notwithstanding the pressure of the state, we gained a moral victory in our resistance, winning the sympathy and support of new people and protest groups.
The arrest and trial has only hardened our activists, demonstrated, once again, the real nature of this state, which is directly representing the interests of the finance and trade magnates, and moreover shown the weakness of the authorities, who, through their preventative arrests, attempted to prevent the demonstration taking place on 1 May. As we can see, all the efforts of the gendarmes proved pointless; we once again demonstrated our strength and unity. We want to express our thanks to all activists who have participated in the solidarity campaign with the arrested Kazakhstan socialists.
In particular, we want to highlight our comrades from Russia and the other sections of the CWI, from Austria, Britain, Germany, Canada, US, South Africa, Nigeria, Australia, Sri Lanka and other countries, as well as trade unions from Europe and Russia and the MEP, Joe Higgins. They organised pickets in our support in Austria outside the OSCE building and at the Kazakhstan embassy in Vienna. On 4 May, in Moscow, a picket was held at the Kazakhstan Embassy. Other support came from activists of other organizations, such as Vpered, RRP and the AKM, and from other left groups.
On 4 May, our comrades in Almaty organised a protest outside the City Court. This followed the mass protest outside the Head Office of Temir Bank on 30 April. On 1 May, a united demonstration of all the democratic opposition parties took place. As a result of all these activities, our comrades from the rights organisation, ‘Talmas’, for the first time in Kazakhstan, managed to achieve the personal participation of the arrested in their own appeals hearings.
We will develop and increase our activities, build and extend the forces of the “Kazakhstan 2012” movement, which we see as laying the basis for the creation of a new party of workers on a socialist programme. Our struggle continues, comrades! Let’s get back to work!
Ainur Kurmanov, CWI Kazakhstan