Kazakhstan and human rights.
Kazakhstan has an appalling human rights record. As Reporters Without Borders reports the state has control over independent media, NGOs, civil society, and, most critically, independent trade unions effectively crushing dissent. The vast majority of the population lives in poverty and those who speak out against the state or organise mass resistance are harassed, jailed, or killed.
The human rights situation in Kazakhstan continues to deteriorate. Nazarbayev has cracked down on protestors and journalists and has limited worker’s rights. The World Democracy Audit ranks Kazakhstan 133 out of 154 countries in its Democracy Ranking and 110th in the Corruption rank, and 138th in Press Freedom.
Despite this many Western governments support the Nazarbayev regime. They ignore ongoing serious human rights violations. Their main interest lies in business delas, especially for the extraction of oil, gas and precious minerals – this is their key priority. When it comes to a choice between business and human rights – multi-national companies turn a blind eye to state abuse and human rights violations. Despite strikes by oil workers – which exposed their porr treatment, poor pay, and the crushing of free and independent trade unions – Western governments supported by the billionaire class continue to invest in the oil sector and other industries in Kazakhstan.
Over the years various Western governments and NGO’s have tried to de-politicise human rights. Limiting human rights to issues about the right to a fair trial and the right to free speech. The West pays lip service even to these human rights, and in any case will not raise them when it comes to Kazakhstan.
Campaign Kazakhstan believes that civil and political rights – right to a fair trial, free speech and crucially the right to assembly – the forming of trade unions is crucial to the demands for human rights. However, we additionally believe that socio-political human rights are equally important – the right to a home, education, water and guaranteed living wage are also essential human rights.
Crucial to the demands for human rights – whether they come from socialists, trade unionists, housing activists – are for the defence of these human rights defenders.
What is a Human Rights Defender?
A Human Rights Defender (HRD) describes people who individually or as a collective act to promote and/or protect human rights. HRD’s is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote and/or protect human rights.
The term ‘human rights defender’ has since the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998 been used increasingly – as a result it has unified and replaced such terms as ‘human rights activist’ or ‘human rights monitor’ for instance.
Campaign Kazakhstan believe that anyone regardless of their class, sex, job, age or race can be a HRD. It is our view that they are identified by what they do rather than by their profession. Some HRD’s can be professional human rights workers who may work for an NGO or a campaigning body, but most HRD’s are campaigners who work to ensure freedom of speech, to organise in trade unions, socialists or community activists involved in promoting human rights or exposing human rights abuses.
What do Human Rights Defenders do?
The rights defended by human rights defenders can include:
- civil and political rights – these rights include issues such as the right to a fair trial, and the right to be free from torture.
- economic and social rights – these rights include issues as diverse as the right to housing, education and water. It also will include campaigns against forced eviction.
- cultural rights – these rights include campaigns for the rights of indigenous people to have control over their land, the right to free, prior and informed consent and control of the resources on them.
The work of HRD’s is diverse. It can include campaigns to against forced eviction or arbitrary arrest.
Subsequently HRD’s in Kazakhstan may organise demonstrations, pickets or lobbies to highlight where key political or judicial decisions have been made which fail to address or ignore human rights. Whilst this work maybe done through human rights organizations, it maybe completed by lawyers or journalists. As a campaign we hope that not only will this continue but that trade unions will become more involved in this.
Human Rights Defenders – internationally.
HRD’s work to promote, protect and realise the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Campaign Kazakhstan believe that human rights cannot be achieved under capitalism. We argue that human rights can only be achieved through democratic socialism – that is when ordinary people take control of the economy, industry, factories and civil society.