Kazakhstan – solidarity needed: Hundreds of opposition activists march in Astana

Many arrested, seven, including Esenbek Ukteshbaev, get 15 days imprisonment

Protests at the undemocratic Presidential election called for April with no real alternative candidates have been gathering pace across Kazakhstan. Notwithstanding all the attempts of the regime to prevent people travelling, hundreds of activists of the campaign known as “Leave the people’s homes alone”, part of ‘Kazakhstan 2012’, managed to get to the centre of Astana, the country’s administrative capital. They wanted to warn the country’s only real presidential candidate – the present dictatorial president, Nursultan Nazarbayev – not to force the people of the country down the same road as Tunisia and Egypt. In particular, they were demanding a guarantee of proper housing and the reduction of all credit rates on loans.

On arriving in the main square they were met with hundreds of police, riot police and even soldiers. A delegation of five were first taken in for “negotiations” but no serious representative of the government or administration appeared to listen. Leaving the building they organised a protest rally led by Yesenbek Ukteshbaev, president of the All-Kazakhstan Independent Trade Union Centre. The demonstrators overwhelmingly called for a complete boycott of the elections. At the end of the rally, hundreds of the protesters unfurled their banners and set off for a march down the main street with loud chanting in favour of a boycott. They had barely gone half a kilometre when they were attacked by the riot police.

The protesters were forced to the ground, many badly beaten. Some were hospitalised. Three big buses were filled with arrested people. Seven, including Yesenbek Ukteshbaev were dragged into a hastily convened court where, without being allowed any legal representation, they were sentenced to 15 days in prison. The others held in the buses, notwithstanding the fact that many had train tickets home, were taken and ‘deported’ to the far edges of the city.

Please send urgent protests to:

1: Head of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan – Alina Bulatovna Rakhimbekova

Email: Rahimbekova@supcourt.kz with copies to:



or Tel ++7 7172 747570

2: Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Email: mid@mid.kz

3: The Head of the President’s Administration

Tel: ++7 (7172) 74 55 24

4: The Embassy of Kazakhstan in your own country.

Please send copies of all protests to Robert.cwi@gmail.com and ainur1917@gmail.com

Below is the protest letter sent today from the Committee for a Workers’ International.

Dear representatives of the Kazakhstan state,

The Committee for a Workers’ International, with sections and groups in nearly 50 countries, wishes to protests in the strongest of terms at the treatment of opposition activists in Astana today (15 March).

When hundreds of people were engaged in a peaceful protest in the capital city, Astana, expressing their opinions about the elections taking place next month, they were brutally attacked by riot police. Many were beaten and injured. Bus-loads were arrested and ‘deported’ from the city, unable to catch trains back to their homes.

Seven leaders of the movement ‘Kazakhstan 2012’, the Independent Trade Union movement and the campaign ‘Leave the people their homes’, who oppose the rushed elections as totally undemocratic, were hurried into court with no chance of legal representation and condemned to two weeks imprisonment. This is a disgrace for a country claiming to be democratic. It proves yet again that the Nazarbayev regime behaves like a police state.

If it continues to treat its people in this way and uses state brutality to silence opposition, it risks a mass movement along the lines of the revolutions of North Africa and the Middle East. Nursultan Nazarbayev, even if put in power again by a rushed and fraudulent election, could well suffer the fate of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt in a short space of time.

We demand the immediate release of the seven oppositionists arrested today in Astana and the dropping of all charges against them.

If this does not happen, a hue and cry will be raised internationally, including in the European Parliament. Last year a representative of the opposition in Kazakhstan spoke at the Human Rights Commission of the Euro Parliament listing all the violations of basic democratic rights, including the right to peaceful protest The representative of the Nazarbayev regime assured all those present and the press that it was perfectly in order for the OSCE Summit to go ahead at the end of last year.

Please reply immediately by e-mail and post to the addresses above.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Saunois,

Secretary of the Committee for a Workers’ International

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March 2011