Support for planned demonstration grows
According to reports from workers at the Zhezkazgan Copper foundry, internal ministry troops have been moved into Zhezkazgan and are setting up a camp on the approaches to the city. The workers believe that this is in preparation for the demonstration of metal-workers, miners and local residents planned for the 6th July. This date coincides with President Nazarbayev’s birthday and is causing concern not just to the local authorities but the government too. Workers will be discussing plans for an all-out strike at the KazakhMys factories on the 21st July.
The authorities are also, it is rumoured, considering the imposition of a curfew in Zhezkazgan and Satpaev to prevent the demonstration and other protests against the policies of the leadership of the KazakhMys corporation taking place.
If this information is true, it seems this demarche is aimed at frightening the workers and residents of Zhezkazgan, to prevent them organizing themselves and conducting a strike. But the actions of the authorities will lead to an escalation of the conflict.
The workforce of Zhezkazgan are protesting against the plans of the London based KazakhMys corporation to “conserve production” which they believe means shutting the Copper foundry down. They are demanding the nationalization of “KazakhMys”. They are expecting to be joined on the demonstration by miners from Satpaev and enrichment workers from Satpaev and Zhezkazgan. They fully intend the protest to be peaceful and are taking their children and grandchildren with them, in the hope that this will discourage the police from shooting.
According to Berik Zhagiparov, former editor of the “Molodozhnaya Gazeta”, the authorities have dug themselves into a hole. The methods of repression used earlier in such cases no longer work as the workers no longer have known leaders or organisers who can be arrested and isolated from the crowd. Information is passed from hand to mouth, meaning that they cannot restrict the information flow by shutting down the internet and social networks. At the same time, the authorities have no-one they can lean on within the workforce to hold the protests back. This leaves them with no plan of action, all they can do is cram the city with troops and make threats. Berik Zhagiparov himself has been warned that if things run out of control, they will make a “second Kozlov” out of him. Kozlov is the leader of the “Alga” party currently in prison following the Zhanaozen events.
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