Kazakhstan: Solidarity protest at football match in Brussels

Banners unfurled in support of workers and activists at Belgium vs Kazakhstan football match

On Friday evening the Belgian national football team won their European Championship qualification match against the national team of Kazakhstan in Brussels. The Kazakh authorities, however, tried to win in terms of repression in Brussels. Some 15 activists distributed solidarity leaflets outside the game at the King Baudouin Stadium. Inside Solidarity banners were put up. (See previous articles on socialistworld.net about the situation in Kazakhstan and the solidarity campaign)

We distributed thousands of leaflets explaining the repression of the Kazakh dictatorship against the oil workers in the Mangistau region, and against the opposition movement in general. The leaflet was titled ‘Supporters against repression in Kazakhstan’. Some of the supporters distributing this leaflet were arrested. It seemed like the repressive powers of Nazarbayev were extended to Brussels.

The police decided that simply distributing a leaflet was a crime worthy of arrest. For them, democratic rights like freedom of expression and opinion are seen as ‘disturbances’. Those who thought that anti-democratic measures were the trademark of the Nazarbayev regime in Kazakhstan, and not of Belgian state forces, are sorely mistaken.

Despite this anti-democratic repression, leaflets were distributed inside the stadium, and two banners were unfurled. There was a banner in English and one in Russian, both saying: “Stop repression against Kazakh workers. Solidarity!”. These banners were only up for a short period as police intervened to pull them down and issue fines to the activists who had brought the banners. These activists face the possibility of being ordered to face court and are at risk of receiving fines between €150 and €500 each.

We did get our message spread in the stadium and got positive echoes from the supporters who were present. In the coming weeks we will continue to organise protests against repression in Kazakhstan and solidarity with the workers in struggle.

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October 2011