Country-wide attacks on the opposition – independent journalist shot in Uralsk
The mass trial of oil workers in Zhanaozen, west Kazakhstan, is now going through the stage of examining the defendants. The testimony is tear-jerking.
About eight defendants each day are taking the stand and their stories are much the same. They are refusing to confirm their original testimonies, stating they were extracted under torture.
A number, including Shamilov, Tilegenov, Otebekov, Shamov, Abdrakhmanov, Amanzholov and Aminov, related what happened to them when they were in Zhanaozen city on 16 December, last year. They saw buildings burning. They were unable to escape from shooting and ended up wounded in hospital. They were called to a police station to make “witnesses” statements. They were then found arrested, beaten, terrorized and forced to sign statements.
One defendant, Edipov, after seeing footage of himself on TV decided to present himself to the political police, the KNB. He was told that he would be a witness and given witness protection, if he gave evidence against 15 others. He refused. Having “turned down their kind offer” the police started to beat Edipov. They covered his head with a polythene bag six times and nearly suffocated him. They threatened to rape him and show the film on face book. Edipov alleged that one of the investigators, Bakyt Mendybayev, put a pistol to his head several times and threatened to throw him into the yard to be torn to pieces by hungry dogs.
Mother of three children and strike activist, Roza Tuletaeva, also said she had been nearly suffocated by bags put over her head and she was beaten with iron rods. As Tuletaeva described the hell she had been through, many were crying in the hall.
Earlier this week, two other notorious court cases started. In Shepte, the scene of more shootings by the police on 16 December, a second trial of striking oil workers opened. Two of the accused reported that their lawyers were unable to attend as they were acting for defendants in Aktau. The judge considered their case for ten minutes before declaring that the court would continue anyway, with court-appointed lawyers representing the two. This lead to uproar in the hall. All those present, including the defendants, stood up and said they would refuse to participate. It took the judge some time to get the court room cleared before announcing the trial would continue behind closed doors.
Trial of Vadim Kuramshin begins
The trial of Vadim Kuramshin also started in the southern city of Taraz. Again the judge refused to hear the lawyer’s appeals against breaches of procedure.
A further trial is now threatened against the workers at the Kazakhmys factory, who threatened to go on strike, last month.
Once again, repression is being stepped up against the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan. Three leading SMK activists were yesterday summoned to the Almy Ata City mayor’s office for a “discussion” which was also attended by “analysts from the KNB” political police. They were essentially offered money, grants, favours and anything else they wanted. They were asked to conduct themselves “quietly”, that is promise that “no action would be taken against Ainur Kurmanov [a leading member of SMK who has been forced into exile by the regime] if he turned to the country and conducted himself responsibly!” The offer was politely rejected!
On 19 April, police raided the Socialist Movement’s office in the city, claiming they were looking for evidence against Dmitry Tikhonov, on charges of “Cyber terrorism”. After 20 minutes, the police left without further explanation.
State attention is being paid to the Socialist Movement because the other two main opposition groups – Alga and the Social Democratic Party – are in disarray. The former has had its leadership arrested. The Social Democratic Party has split, with one side going over to the regime.
Activists involved in organizing monthly opposition demonstrations of the ‘Unagreed’ say that the only organized force left is the SMK. But in many cities, these protests are being organized by people who have decided enough is enough.
In the western Kazakhstan industrial city of Uralsk, an independent journalist, Lukpan Akhmedyarova, who organized one of the most successful of these opposition rallies, was shot in the street on the evening of 19 April. He is in a serious condition, although conscious, in hospital, and awaiting an emergency operation.
The next round of rallies of the ‘Unagreed’ takes place on 28 April. Please keep sending protests to the Embassies of Kazakhstan and other Kazakh interests throughout the world.