Letter to Press: Police action to foil ‘May21’ demonstrations will not abate anger

: May 23, 2016
Appeals, Articles, Press release

In a letter to the press, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan, Mick Whale, protests about police action in cities across Kazkahstan

Protests called for in capitals worldwide!

Dear Editor,

The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right in a civilised modern democracy. The anti-democratic measures, which the Kazakhstan government have taken against its own people, in the last week is further proof that Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, is no democrat.

The opposition of ordinary Kazakhs to the Nazarbayev government’s plans to sell vast swathes of Kazakh land to Chinese business concerns has been repressed by the police and security forces. Media broadcasts have been censored or prevented from taking place. There has been a virtual media blackout both within Kazakhstan and to the outside world.

Known activists and critics of the regime have been warned not to take part in any demonstrations. Some, disgracefully, were arrested in the days before the demonstrations had even taken place. Some have had “visits” from the police, others have been warned by telephone, and still more have been called into local police stations for a “discussion” and a “warning”.

Despite this intimidation, thousands of protestors showed their opposition to the land sell-off on the 21st May. In some cases, protestors had to find routes around a maze of security forces deployed to stop any demonstrations taking place.   In many towns and cities, a game of “cat and mouse” took place, as demonstrators tried to avoid being arrested by the police. The security forces have not fired on the demonstrators, as they did on striking oil workers in Zhanaozen, in 2011, however, dozens of arrests have taken place. Protests against these arrests are being planned to take place outside Kazakh embassies around the world and more importantly inside Kazakhstan itself.

The demonstrations on Saturday against the land sell-off were the most coordinated protests across Kazakhstan as a whole so far. The fact that demonstrations took place in most of the main cities at the same time is significant. They are an indication of the growing deep-rooted opposition to the dictatorship.

Far from intimidating the opposition forces in Kazakhstan, government repression will only encourage further protests against Nazarbayev and his corrupt government.

Michael Whale (Secretary Campaign Kazakhstan)

Protests at embassies should demand the release of all those arrested in the run-up to the May 21 protests and the dropping of all charges against them. It should also demand the release of all political prisoners held in Kazakhstan’s jails on trumped up charges.

‘No to land privatization!’ and ‘Down with the Nazarbayev dictatorship!’ are slogans carried on demonstrations already held. Other slogans can be taken from the short programme carried in our last article.

Please send copies of letters of protest handed in at embassies and photos of pickets to campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com