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Urgent action for Vadim Kuramshin

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Solidarity requested for housing campaigners

A life and death campaign is being conducted by housing campaigners who have taken to the dangerous road of a hunger strike protest. They are fighting attempts by the authorities in Kazakhstan to evict people who are burdened with housing debts that they cannot afford to repay and who, with their families, have nowhere else to live. Many of them have been suffering crippling illnesses and would rather die than be thrown onto the streets.

About 30 desperate people have been refusing food for nearly one month now; others from among the original hunger strikers have been hospitalised. The participants are members of the Leave the People’s Homes Alone housing campaign with participants from Almaty, Shimkent, Astana and other cities.

We have received a request for a flood of messages to be sent to the hunger strikers and suggest they be along the following lines:

We wish to express our solidarity with the hunger strikers in Kazakhstan who are demanding assurances that their homes will not be re-possessed.  

We are very aware of the obstinacy of the regime, the banks and president Nazarbayev in refusing to show leniency. It would cost them little to immediately resolve this issue in comparison with the huge sums of money they use to guarantee their own luxurious way of living.

We admire the courage of these protesters but hope that no one will go so far as to lose their lives. The regime would once again be responsible for the deaths of ordinary people who oppose them and must face growing anger inside and outside the country.   

We express our sincere hope for a speedy resolution of this issue and our solidarity with the struggle for an end to the Nazarbayev dictatorship in Kazakhstan.

Messages of solidarity to be sent via the president of the Leave the People’s Homes Alone Campaign at:- esenbekjh@gmail.com   and protests to local embassies http://www.embassypages.com/kazakhstan which can be found here.

Copies please to campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com

Also please click on the link below and scroll down to where you see a space for your email address. Fill it in and then press where it says подписать with a red background.

http://www.avaaz.org/ru/petition/Podderzhim_obrashchenie_v_OON_o_nezamedlitelnom_reagirovanii_na_bessrochnuyu_golodovku_v_Kazahstane/?copy

Support hunger strikers, risking their lives for housing justice

Fight forced evictions from only homes!

Campaign Kazakhstan has received an appeal from housing campaigners for international support. At present several dozen people are refusing to take food in protest at the Nazarbayev government refusing to stop banks evicting them from their only homes.

United Nations Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, who was recently in Britain pointing out the injustices of the Con-Dem government’s  ‘bedroom tax’, was in Kazakhstan in 2010. Her report to the Kazakhstan government urged the implementation of the international law which speaks of what should be an inviolable right to shelter.

Now human rights activists from the Central Asian Network “For Social Inclusion” have sent to bodies of the United Nations on this issue. They have set up an online petition requesting an immediate response to an indefinite hunger strike by citizens who are victims of violations of the right to adequate housing in the Republic of Kazakhstan. It urges UN member states to take effective measures to ensure the proper application of legal practices and law enforcement.
We ask readers to support and sign the petition, which states:

Adequate alternative housing is not being provided under the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan for those borrowers (of money for housing) who are being subjected to forced evictions. Over a long period of time, commercial banks, with the active assistance of the judiciary and public officials, has been depriving citizens of their only homes, which is leading to poor health and threatens the lives of all family members (including children, the elderly , the ill and disabled), to a rise in homelessness and social exclusion . In this way, the activities of banks involved in mortgage lending with the full connivance of the state, have purposefully aimed at severely limiting/infringing the right of all citizens to a decent standard of living , the most important component of which is the right to adequate housing. (Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic , Social and Cultural Rights) .

Please click on the link below and scroll down to where you see a space for your email address. Fill it in and then press where it says подписать with a red background.

http://www.avaaz.org/ru/petition/Podderzhim_obrashchenie_v_OON_o_nezamedlitelnom_reagirovanii_na_bessrochnuyu_golodovku_v_Kazahstane/?copy

Vadim Kuramshin appeal date set

It has been confirmed this morning that that the case against Vadim Kuramshin will be reviewed in Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court on 25  November. All those believing he has been cruelly wronged by being sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on trumped up charges will welcome this news. Hopefully, the highest authorities have been affected by the international campaign in his defence and the unanimous decision of a jury that he is innocent will be reinstated. Campaign Kazakhstan, along with others, will be aiming to ensure there are international observers at the court hearing to ensure that real justice is done.

We look forward to a successful outcome but letters of protest and support should keep coming in.

Messages should be sent to your nearest embassy: find http://www.embassypages.com/kazakhstan

Letters can be sent by post to: Supreme Court: 010000, Astana, 39 D. Kunayeva Street. Russian or Kazakh speakers can phone: +7 (7172) 74-75-85 or +7 (7172) 74-77-18. Email: i_yelekeyv@kpsa.sud.kz

Copies by email to: campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com

Jailed lawyer, Vadim Karamshin, to go on hunger strike from 5th November

The human rights lawyer, Vadim Karamshin, currently in prison in North Kazakhstan, has announced he will go on hunger strike from 5th November. He says he intends to continue until he gets a proper reply from the General Prosecutor’s office to his request to review his case.

At the beginning of August he received a letter rejecting his request on the grounds that it was not possible until the Supreme Court had reviewed the case. However, that review had actually been completed on 15th July. When a second letter was sent to the Prosecutor, the rejection was this time justified on the basis that Vadim had not sent a copy of the Court order. This also was not true; he had included a copy of the order with his letter. Vadim considers this to be a form of psychological torture.

As Campaign Kazakhstan has detailed elsewhere, Vadim Kuramshin was imprisoned on trumped up charges at the end of last year and sentenced to prison for 12 years. His real crime is that he has become a well-known campaigner for prisoners’ rights and, in particular, has highlighted the continuing scandal of torture widely used in the country’s prisons.

No end to torture

This practice continues despite government assurances that it is ‘being dealt with’. Just this week a new group of prisoners from Institute AK 159/5 in the Karaganda region has approached the Socialist Movement Kazakhstan for help. In their letter they describe: «They do not try to reeducate us. They try to cripple us, to make us brutal and helpless, they just beat and humiliate us. They force us to march around, irrespective of whether we are ill or not, and to sing the Kazakhstan national anthem. They march us so much, our boots wear out in a month. If we refuse to work, they put us in the punishment cell where we are beaten by all those who are not too lazy to do so. The money we are supposed to earn all goes into the pockets of the guards. Every day they come up with some new intrigue against us…” The prisoners are afraid for their lives as they are forced to run back to their cells with sacks over their heads and in handcuffs.

The refusal of the authorities to guarantee Vadim even those basic legal rights he is supposed to get under Kazakhstan law has forced him to take the drastic step of a hunger strike. By doing so, he hopes to attract the attention of such bodies as the European Parliament, the OSCE and international media to his plight, and that of all those prisoners currently being held in inhuman conditions in Kazakhstan jails.

Vadim’s wife reports, following a recent visit, that due to the campaign in Vadim’s support, at least in his prison, the prison guards have to treat him with some respect. He has passed a message on to express his warm thanks to all his friends, supporters and journalists – to those who have not forgotten him. He writes, “I personally want to send my thanks to Ainur Kurmanov, to Campaign Kazakhstan, to all comrades in Britain and the whole Committee for a Workers’ International. And of course my thanks to the Association of Lawyers and Advocates, who have decided to award me the prestigious “Ludovic-Trarieux” prize, of which I am genuinely proud”.

An appeal is being made to mark 5th November, when Vadim starts his hunger strike, by sending protests demanding that an immediate review is made of his case, that all charges against him be dropped and that he be released from detention in time to receive the Ludovic Trarieux prize in person. These should be sent to the Kazakhstan embassy in your country (which you can find at: http://www.embassypages.com/kazakhstan).
Letters of solidarity can be sent to Vadim via kazakhstansolidarity@gmail.com.
To let the authorities know that Vadim has support outside, letters should also be sent by post to: Vadim Kuramshin, Severnaya Oblast Kazakhstan, Yesilskii paiun, Poselok Gornii, Uchr EC 164/4, Kazakhstan 150506
Please also send copies of emails to campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com for our information.

A warning strike by oil-workers in West Kazakhstan’s Mangystau region

New threats by employers against trade union

Several hundred workers at the TOO “Yugo-Vostochnaya Servicnaya Gruppa” held a two-hour warning strike last week. These workers, engaged in servicing oil equipment in the Mangystau region are organized in the independent trade union “Aktau”, which is affiliated to the “Zhanartu” union. Their main demands are over pay and working conditions.

In January, a trilateral commission met involving the management, trade union and city government chaired by the Deputy Governor of the Mangystau region Aldashev. He instructed the employer to find a way of resolving the dispute with the trade union. However, the General Director of the company, Andrei Tishenko has ignored all the negotiation procedures outlined in the Labour code, even though the trade union has ensured that all its letters and requests have been within the law.

Eventually the trade union submitted an appeal with the City Prosecutor’s office, complaining that the employer was ignoring the Labour code, but the prosecutor simply ignored the appeal.

The inaction by the Prosecutor’s office and the crude refusal of the employer to follow procedures has led to growing anger amongst the workers and the two-hour warning strike.

Early this week a delegation from the management “visited” the workforce. Amongst the ten were the general director and his various assistants and deputies, including the head of the company union Kalbai Akhatov. During stormy discussions, the director accused Berdygul Tlemov, activist in the already 100 strong trade union “Aktau”, of causing all the problems in the organisation. He refused to recognise the warning strike as legitimate. Such was the intimidation, Berdygul ended up with a dramatically increased blood pressure and had to be taken by ambulance to hospital.

Director Tishenko stated that he refused to recognize the independent trade union, which is (at least for now) against Kazakhstan law.

Please send protests to the General Director of  TOO “Yugo-Vostochnaya Servicnaya Gruppa” Andrei Tishenko on uvsg@uvsg.pnsh.ru with copies to kazakhstansolidarity@gmail.com

Latest news on Esenbek Ukteshbayev

He is being held in solitary confinement without any contact allowed from the outside world, including with a lawyer. He has gone on hunger strike to protest against his sentence. For more information on this case see here http://campaignkazakhstan.org/index.php/2013/10/02/latest-news-from-astana-protest/

Please send support and protests to your nearest embassy http://www.embassypages.com/kazakhstan and to the campaign campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com