Below we republish a letter from Britain campaign secretary Mick Whale which was published in the Guardian today ( for original see here). While UK Prime Minister David Cameron is building links with Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev and his cronies, workers in Britain were linking up with their counterparts in Kazakhstan. The recent RMT transport union conference agreed unanimously to support Campaign Kazakhstan and donate £1,000 to support the work. At the 29 June National Shop Stewards Network conference it was agreed to send a message of support to Kazakhmys workers in their dispute with management – for more information on that dispute see here.
I continue to be astonished at the hypocrisy of both David Cameron andTony Blair in their dealings with the Kazakh regime of Nusultan Nazarbayev. You correctly highlight the lack of human and democratic rights that exist there (Report, 2 July). I visited Kazakhstan last November as part of a trade union delegation to investigate the killing of oil workers at Zhenaozhen. The official number of workers shot in the back by the police and killed is 12, as you report. However, after speaking to eyewitnesses and survivors, I am convinced that the actual number of those killed is nearer to 70. This figure does not include those who, a year after the attack, are still too injured to work.
Neither does it include those who were rounded up and imprisoned for the “criminal” offence of publicly opposing the regime by being on the square at Zhanaozhen. Many of these, including the lawyers who tried to defend them, like Vadim Kuramshin, are still held in Kazakh jails. The Kazakhstan state officially sanctions the repression of any opposition elements. This ranges from threats and intimidation, right up to murder. The activists that I spoke to claim that the situation is getting worse.
Blair and Cameron are experienced politicians who are acting as apologists for one of the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world. Cameron shows that he is more interested in getting deals for the 1% than securing human rights for the 99% – in Kazakhstan as in the UK. Trade unionists in the UK and across Europe will continue to campaign for human and democratic rights in Kazakhstan, many of us organised under the banner of Campaign Kazakhstan.
Secretary, Campaign Kazakhstan