Press release

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

Posted by clare on May 23, 2016
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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

 

 

Fourth Anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre-Book of newly translated poems by imprisoned writer Aron Atabek to be launched at a commemoration in London

Posted by T on December 15, 2015
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This Wednesday, 16 December, there will be a special event to mark the fourth anniversary of the Zhanaozen massacre in Kazakhstan and to launch a book of poems by the imprisoned writer, Aron Atabek. (Details below.)

There will be music – including a performance of a special piece for cello and guitar by James Hesford, dedicated to the poet, and readings of some of Aron’s poems.

 

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday 16th December marks the fourth anniversary of the tragic events of Zhanaozen in Western Kazakhstan. State forces attacked and killed over 70 unarmed civilians – striking oil-workers, family members and supporters. The Nazarbayev government (with whom the British government has close relations) to this day hides the truth about this atrocity and their own direct role in ordering it. The same regime locks up outspoken critics and activists – sometimes for decades.

Aron Atabek is a world-renowned poet and writer languishing in one of Nazarbayev’s prisons on trumped up charges after facing down bull-dozers in 2006 during mass protests to save people’s homes. He has often been held in solitary confinement and deprived of family visits and even pencils and paper. If campaigning to get all charges dropped are not successful, he has another ten years of sentence to serve…until he reaches the age of 72!

In this context Campaign Kazakhstan is holding the launch of a book of poems by Aron Atabek available for the first time in English thanks to Alfia Nikipbekova and Niall McDevitt.

We invite you to come along to obtain a review copy and discuss what can be done to publicise the campaign to free the poet and fighter, Aron Atabek.

Wednesday, 16 December at 7pm
Headquarters of Unite the Union
128 Theobalds Rd
London WC1X 8TN

Dirty deals in London as Nazarbayev visits Cameron! Letter to the Guardian from Campaign Secretary

Posted by T on November 03, 2015
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Dear Sir/Madam

 

Following the much publicised and criticised recent visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the British government is now preparing to meet and greet Nursultan Nazarbayev, the leader of Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev, like Xi Jinping has no regard for human rights. Opponents of his regime are ruthlessly dealt with. He is a dictator in all but name as only tame opposition parties are allowed to contest elections.

 

Those who claim that the way to liberalise countries like Kazakhstan is to do business with them should look at the facts. In 2011, 70 oil workers protesting in Zhanoazhen were shot down by armed police. Survivors of the massacre have struggled to find work or even get proper medical care. Instead of remorse after the massacre, Nazarbayev promoted the local mayor and launched a “forward plan” which among other things has given the courts powers to jail union leaders for calling a strike for up to 12 years.

 

Tony Blair, who has been paid millions by Nazarbayev for “consultancy”, should be ashamed that lawyers like Vadim Kuramshin, who have defended opponents of Nazarbayev in the courts, continue to be arrested and jailed on trumped up charges. Aron Atabek, a renowned Kazakh poet, also remains in prison after protesting at the destruction of workers’ homes. Workers who are trying to organise independent and free trade unions face victimisation, harassment and often worse.

 

While the living standards of ordinary people in Kazakhstan fall due to devaluation linked to the fall in commodity prices, Nazarbayev himself has amassed a huge fortune, making him one of the richest men in the world. His wealth has come through the selling off of Kazakh oil, gas and mineral companies to US, Russian, Chinese and British companies. British business may profit from closer ties with Kazakhstan, but it will be on the back of further repression and increased poverty for the Kazakh workers.

 

By welcoming Nazarbayev and continuing to support trade with Kazakhstan, the British government is propping up a dictatorship. Is this what Cameron and Osborne mean when they talk about promoting “British values”?

 

Yours sincerely Mike Whale (Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan)

 

 

Imprisoned Kazakh activist awarded prize given to Nelson Mandela in 1985

Posted by T on December 11, 2013
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Nelson Mandela was the first recipient in 1985 of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. Coincidentally it was on the day of his death,  5 December, that the ceremony took place in Paris for this year’s winner, Vadim Kuramshin. Like Mandela, when he was awarded this prize, Vadim Kuramshin is being held in prison under a brutal dictatorship.

Vadim Kuramshin was awarded the 18th Ludovic-Trarieux Prize for his courageous campaigning for human rights and prisoners’ rights in Kazakhstan.

Ben Robinson, spokesperson for Campaign Kazakhstan, says:  “Vadim has played a courageous role in standing up for human rights, despite the huge self-sacrifice this has led to. He has consistently stood on the side of those victims of torture, discrimination and victimisation by a regime determined to keep power in its own hands by any means necessary.”

“This is the real reason why Vadim is currently in prison – because he has been a consistent thorn in the side of the regime. He was unanimously acquitted by a jury in his first trial, but then rearrested under the same charges and tried without a jury, where Vadim himself was not allowed a defence lawyer or any representation. Vadim is currently facing 12 years in jail. The Supreme Court, on 25 November, dismissed his case. His family and supporters are aiming to lodge the papers for an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Commission before the end of this year.”

“Campaign Kazakhstan welcomes this recognition of Vadim Kuramshin’s tireless work for human rights in Kazakhstan, where many languish in prison for daring to oppose Kazakhstan’s president Nazarbayev and his supporters.”

Campaign Kazakhstan has consistently fought for the unconditional release of Vadim and recently  assisted in getting lawyers to the High Court and also arranging for his mother and brother to be in Paris to receive the award on his behalf.

Campaign Kazakhstan is holding a protest on 16 December at 12 midday at the Kazakhstan embassy (125 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA) to demand the release of all political prisoners in Kazakhstan.

The campaign was launched in 2010 and has the affiliation of the RMT transport union, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Paul Murphy MEP and Jeremy Corbyn MP, amongst others.

ENDS

Campaign Kazakhstan activists will be protesting and leafleting the Celtic V Shakter Karagandy Champions League game on Wednesday night

Posted by T on August 28, 2013
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From 6:30pm Springfield Road/ London Road, Glasgow

Protest organiser and Celtic supporter Luke Ivory ” We are protesting and leafleting at the game to raise awareness of the brutal dictatorship in Kazakhstan, the regime will be looking to get good PR out of this high profile match. Kazakhstan is a police state. It is ruled by one man, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his close family who have looted the wealth of the country to grow rich and buy international allies. The vast majority of the population live in poverty and those who speak out against the regime or organise mass resistance are harassed, jailed, even killed. Workers’ leaders and their families have been subject to brutal physical attack including rape and murder. Rubber bullets and batons have been used to intimidate strikers, press representatives and human rights observers.Many so-called democratic governments continue to send representatives to conferences hosted by Nazarbayev, send official delegations to Kazakhstan and encourage lucrative business deals, especially for the extraction of oil, gas and precious minerals.
Ex- British prime minister, Tony Blair, has a multi-million pound agency advising the regime on how to make safe business deals and how to avoid social unrest!
Campaign Kazakhstan aims to give maximum support to all activists and workers’ leaders involved in the genuine opposition movements. This means supporting the struggle for basic democratic rights. This means campaigning for free speech, freedom of the media, freedom of public assembly, the right to establish trade unions and political parties independent of the government, to organise in the workplace and the community without interference from the state, to strike and demonstrate. We would urge both teams supporters to take our material and sign the petition to free political activists imprisoned in Nazabayev’s gulags”

Campaign Kazakhstan is supported by

Socialist Party Scotland

Youth Fight for Jobs

Andrey Hunko, MP for DIE LINKE, Germany
Bob Crow, RMT union general secretary, UK
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Labour Party, Britain
Paul Murphy, Member of European Parliament, Socialist Party
Themis Kotsifakis, General secretary of OLME, greek secondary school teachers’ union
Clare Daly, MP for United Left Alliance, Ireland
Inge Hoeger, MP for DIE LINKE, Germany
Joe Higgins, MP for Socialist Party, Ireland
CGT Pôle emploi Lorraine, France
Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK

Illegal deportation of oligarch’s wife rocks Italian government

Posted by T on July 17, 2013
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The Italian government has admitted its knowledge of the illegal operation to deport the wife and daughter of ‘dissident’ and fugitive oligarch, Mukhtar Ablyazov, at the end of May this year. We carry a press statement made by Campaign Kazakhstan, Italy, last week. It demands: that the government clariify its responsibility, that an inquiry be set up into the operations in Kazakhstan of the giant Italian energy company, ENI and that the government withdraw all Italian support for the dictatorship.

Original press release here shalabayeva_com

International solidarity: of the workers and the bosses

Posted by T on July 03, 2013
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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.

Kazakh president’s human rights record

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.
Mike Whale
Secretary, Campaign Kazakhstan

Statement by the trade union, CGT “Pôle emploi” (Employment Service) of the Lorraine region, on Laurent Fabius’ visit to Kazakhstan

Posted by T on March 05, 2013
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- cliquer pour version française -

Statement by the trade union, CGT “Pôle emploi” (Employment Service) of the region, on Laurent Fabius’ visit to Kazakhstan

To: Monsieur Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs before his recent visit to Kazakhstan

We have just learned that you are planning to visit Kazakhstan on March 1, 2013, in the context of the development of relations between that country and France.

The political, economic, cultural and scientific relations with this country have intensified in recent years. This intensification that your government keeps and maintains, follows on from the actions of the previous governments under Sarkozy.

We are surprised that representatives of the French state maintain such good relations with the Kazakh state, especially with Nazarbayev, President of the Republic, who is welcomed with great pomp in the Palace of the Republic, while the people and workers of that country, the social movement and its leaders, have been facing bloody repression for several years in a highly disastrous social and economic context.

Do we have to remind you, Monsieur Minister, of the repression of the heroic strike of the oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen, which resulted, on Dec. 16, 2011, in a massacre of about a hundred people, hundreds of people injured and arrested during a peaceful demonstration?

Do we have to remind you of the regular assassination of trade unionists, the arbitrary arrests of activists of social movements and even of lawyers who defend the workers in struggle in this country?

Do we have to remind you of the semi-systematic attacks on strikers and trade unionists by the special forces of the police?

Monsieur Minister, we suppose you will shake hands with the executioners of Kazakh workers, to allow some French multinational companies such as AREVA and TOTAL to continue their business and increase their profits by overexploiting, in the most shameful and detestable way, the working class of this country.

So, instead of meeting with representatives of this criminal State for economic reasons, we ask you to meet the workers in struggle, from French, Kazakh or all other companies located there in order to exploit ’s abundant natural resources – an exploitation from which the workers never receive the fruits.

Go and meet for exaDeclaration_CGT-Pole-emploi-Lorraine_Visite-Fabius-au-Kazakhstanmple Vadim Kuramshin in jail, where he languished just for having been the advisor of the Zhanaozen strikers, and a recognized human rights activist. Go and meet Ainur Kurmanov and Esenbek Ukteshbaev, leaders of the trade union organisation ‘Zhanartu’, who are constantly harassed by the Kazkhstan authorities and constantly threatened with imprisonment and even of State murder, or Berik Zhagiparov, arrested last February in Zhezkazgan.

Monsieur Laurent Fabius, tell us, on matters of diplomacy and international relations, when is the change coming?

German MP, Andrej Hunko, demands a fair trial for Vadim Kuramshin

Posted by T on February 13, 2013
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Andrej Hunko, who is a member of the german parliament for Die Linke and a member of the parlamentarian assembly of the Council of Europe, issued a press release demanding a fair trial for Vadim Kuramshin tomorrow, 14 february 2013. Hunko says: “The process against Vadim Kuramshin is being monitored very closely on an international level. I am deeply convinced that, if the process is carried through in accordance with the rule of law, it can only end with Vadim’s release.” The german press release can be found at http://www.andrej-hunko.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/1453-vadim-kuramshin-muss-fairen-prozess-bekommen.

EU and Kazakhstan celebrate 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations while human rights situation is deteriorating

Posted by T on February 05, 2013
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Below is a press release from Paul Murphy MEP, on a recent meeting with the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan

On 29 January, Members of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Central Asia were invited to meet with Kazakhstan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Erlan Idrissov, who visited Brussels to celebrate the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the EU.

Minister Idrissov proudly described Kazakhstan as a “success story” and praised Kazakhstan’s achievements in terms of leaps in GDP growth over the past 20 years. He explained that Kazakhstan enjoyed the “confidence and support in society to ensure this growth”.

The Minister invited Members of the European Parliament to “come to Kazakhstan, talk to our people, the young generation in particular.”

Responding to the Zhanaozen killings in December 2011 and the demand for an independent, international investigation into the event, he denounced that demand as “an ‘unpartner’ like approach, a shame and a total mistrust expressed against the Kazakhstan authorities”

He repeatedly referred to Kazakhstan as an “emerging and developing economy that cannot apply the same standards as a fully-fledged democracy.”

Questioned by Paul Murphy MEP about the allegations of widespread torture of defendants in the Zhanaozen trials, the unjustified and long prison sentences of Roza Tuletaeva and other leading strike activists, the subsequent crack down of opposition activists as well as accusations of procedural violations and the denial of a fair appeal trial for Vadim Kuramshin, a well-known human rights defender in Kazakhstan, Mr Idrissov dismissed all those allegations as “empty accusations and speculations, based on information by people who have an interest in destabilising the situation in Kazakhstan”. He continued by saying “someone used the Zhanaozen protest and turned it into violence”

He also explained that “no one has the right to doubt the court system and rulings in Kazakhstan.”

The Minister also justified the recent crack down on opposition media by saying that the crack down was restricted to media outlets supported by the “criminal run away Ablazov.”

When Paul Murphy MEP – who was denied a visa to travel to Kazakhstan at the invitation of the independent trade union Zhanartu twice by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2011- asked the Minister about the possibility to travel to Kazakhstan in the second half of 2012, the Minister explained that Kazakhstan is not obliged to accept every visa application or to explain why a visa was denied.

Commenting on the exchange of views with Minister Idrissov, Paul Murphy commented:

“I fundamentally disagree with the Minister´s perception that discontent and dissatisfaction within Kazakhstan is a result of manipulation from the outside. Many workers, independent trade union activists, human rights defenders and journalists bravely stand up for their rights, often at risk of being imprisoned, threatened, intimidated and even tortured. My experience from talking to them is that they do so because they want their country to change for the better; they want to tell the truth about what is happening, exercise their basic democratic rights and feel that the huge wealth that is present in Kazakhstan should benefit the people of Kazakhstan.

“I will continue to struggle alongside activists in Kazakhstan, in particular, members of Socialist Movement Kazakhstan, to fight for justice and democratic and socialist change. I will be attempting to visit Kazakhstan again in the second half of 2013 to see for myself the conditions of workers in Kazakhstan and to bring international solidarity and support.”