Kazakhstan: Wave of terror against opposition activists

Step up international protests!

The past week has seen a new wave of violent repression against activists of the ‘Kazakhstan 2012’ movement, trade unionists and prison rights campaigners.

Car explodes in Shakhtinsk:

On the morning of 11th October the car belonging to the deputy president of the ‘Miners’ Families’ organisation, Takhir Mukhamedzyanov, was destroyed in an explosion in the town of Shakhtinsk. He was due to travel to Karaganda on the same day, together with the president of the organisation, Nataliya Tomilova. They were due to take part in court proceedings on the appeal against the four year sentence against another opposition activist, Aidos Sadikova. Nataliya Tomilova herself was callously evicted from her home this month for obviously political reasons (see reports on this site). She comments that the explosion could not have been accidental, as the car had recently been overhauled. Moreover, there have been threats recently to carry out precisely such a provocation.

Headquarters broken into:

On the evening of 5th October, two men in civilian clothing tried to gain entrance to the headquarters of the ‘Defend our Homes’ organisation in Almaty. They first tried to gain entrance by claiming to be police, but, as they had no warrant, they were refused. They then tried to climb over the wall, until other activists turned up when they fled in their car. The same happened the following evening, when they actually got into the yard, although not the office itself.

Trade unionist badly beaten up:

Trade unionist and opposition activist, Igor Kolov, in the city of Kostanai, has been badly beaten up while under arrest. A group of known thugs were put in the same cell as him, even though they had not apparently been arrested. During the night they attacked Igor while he was asleep. He managed to get to the cell door and hammer on it, even landing a few blows of his own in self-defence. The guard eventually intervened.

After writing a statement against his attackers, Igor was taken to the neighbouring town of Rudnii were he was examined by a doctor. He was found to have several broken ribs. They refused however to hospitalise him. He was then taken back to the original police station, where he was told they had lost his statement. He was also told that the thugs had written out their own statement accusing him of attacking them.

To hide their crime, the police originally tried to sentence Igor to another 15 days. They thought better of it as they feared protests. But when friends and comrades turned up to meet Igor at the time he was due to be released, he was missing. The police had bundled him into a car and thrown him out on the edge of the city with no money. Igor managed to make his way into the city, despite his wounds, and got to the office of the “Alga” opposition party. When he attempted to get treatment at the city’s emergency wards, he was turned away as doctors had been warned not to treat him. He had to travel to the next town to get help.

Ainur Kurmanov receives another vicious warning:

Over the weekend, Ainur Kurmanov, the well-known opposition activist and socialist, received a written threat. “You have crossed all boundaries, you will answer not just to me but to our lads from the National Front, there will be no standing on ceremony…”. So arrogant is the author of this letter that he even gives his name – Ulan Shamshet – and his telephone number. There is considerable evidence that the “National Front” is actually a front for the KNB (Kazakh KGB).

Police try to frame Vadim Kuramshin on drugs charges:

On 6th October, Vadim Kuramshin, the much-harassed human rights lawyer, and Zhumagali Omanbayev were arrested in the town of Shakhtinsk, the same town in which the car bomb exploded. They had just visited the notorious Dolinka prison. According to the police arresting them, he had been “involved in drugs”. After an intervention from the office of European MP, Joe Higgins, they were released without charge.

Prisoner murdered:

According to Vadim, a 23 year-old prisoner, Kanat Makhmet, has been beaten to death in the IK 33 Prison Colony near Kostanai. Two guards are currently being investigated about the beating.

Student Rinat Kibraev victimised, other students threatened:

Rinat Kibraev, leader of the youth wing of ‘Kazakhstan 2012’, has been victimised at his University. He has been refused the right to transfer to another place of study for political reasons. Following a protest by other students on his behalf, some of them were called in by the KNB for a “heart to heart talk”. In the past such “talks” have been a mixture of threats and attempts by the KNB to recruit students to help it undermine the opposition movement.

All these incidents are undoubtedly part of the regime’s attempts to ‘frighten’ the opposition in the lead up to December’s Summit of the heads of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They hope that, by using such terror methods, they will get activists to keep their heads down. At the same time, they are well aware that the 56 different heads of state who will be at the party in Astana are more interested in getting their hands on the country’s oil and gas resources than in worrying about the democratic and human rights of the Kazakhstan people.

We are therefore calling, through the Committee for a Workers’ International, on all possible supporters, to step up the condemnations of the Kazakhstan regime, demanding an end to this new wave of repression.

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October 2010