Hot topics:

Italian MPs alarmed by the human rights backsliding in Kazakhstan

On 25 November  2020, 6 members of the Italian Parliament addressed President Tokayev with a letter, expressing their deep concern about the worrying state  of fundamental freedoms in Kazakhstan; the mass repression puts Kazakhstan’s international credibility and its intention of becoming a ‘listening state’ (i.e. open to dialogue with civil society) at stake right before its parliamentary election. With this appeal, the MPs demanded the Kazakhstani government “torelease all political prisoners as soon as possible, to put an end to all forms of retaliation against human rights activists and to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of 4 activists” and of Dulat Agadil’s son, in accordance with Kazakhstan’s obligations under international human rights law.

The letter was signed by 6 members of the Italian Parliament from 3 different political groups, both from the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, namely Lia Quartapelle (Democratic Party), Mauro Del Barba (Italia Viva), Riccardo Magi (+Europa), Alessandro Alfieri (Democratic Party), Roberto Rampi (Democratic Party), and Valeria Fedeli (Democratic Party). 

In the letter, the MPs disapproved the persistent abuse of anti-extremism legislation by the authorities and the secret decision to ban the “Koshe Partiyasy” (“Street Party”) a peaceful opposition movement. Such a decision – along with the previous ban of another peaceful opposition movement, “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” – goes against the recommendations of the European Parliament’s 2019 urgent resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the UN Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. They highlighted the worrying cases of criminal proceedings on “extremism” charges, 67 in total, initiated by the authorities against the supporters of these two movements, mainly social media users, peaceful protesters and civil society representatives.  

They equally underscored the individual cases of civil society activists Kairat Klyshev, Abai Begimbetov and Askhat Zheksebayev who are currently in the pre-trial detention facility, risking from 10 up to 17 years in prison; and Noyan Rakhimzhanov, Dametkan Aspandiyarova, and Gulzipa Dzhaukerova who are facing 8 to 12 years of imprisonment for participating in “extremist” activities. 

The MPs were also shocked by the death of 5 human rights activists in Kazakhstan, Serik Orazov, Amanbike Meirkhanova, Garifulla Embergenov, Dulat Agadil and his 17-year-old son Zhanbolat Agadil, calling for a thorough investigation into these deaths. The 6 MEPs also reiterated the need to stop any forms of retaliation against the family members of Dulat Agadil and civil society activists who participated in the memorial ceremony in honour of the murdered activist or financially supported his family and families of other political prisoners.   

In addition, MPs urged the Kazakhstani government to immediately release all political prisoners who have been wrongly convicted for legitimately exercising their freedom of speech on social platforms or participating in peaceful gatherings. Among them are Maks Bokayev, Yerzhan Yelshibayev, Aron Atabek, Rusland Ginatullin, Igor Chuprina, Igor Sychev and Sanavar Zakirova. In the letter, they condemned the widespread use of torture in places of detention, whose victims are mainly political prisoners. 

Lastly, the Members of the Italian Parliament expressed deep concern about the situation of human rights defenders both inside and outside the country. In Kazakhstan, Elena Semenova, Altynay Tuksikova, Anna Shukeyeva, Roza Musayeva, Nazym Serikpekova, Aliya Zhakupova, Gulzhanat Temirkhan, Zukhra Nariman, Alma Nurusheva, Daniyar Khassenov and Daryn Khasenov have faced attacks from the government because of their monitoring activities in the field of fundamental rights. Outside Kazakhstan, judicial cooperation instruments have been abused to punish those who stand up for human rights, as has been experienced by political refugee Bota Jardemalie in Belgium and founder of US-based Freedom Kazakhstan foundation, Barlyk Mendygaziyev

Finally, MPs called upon President Tokayev to take tangible steps to implement the country’s international obligations, in particular the human rights principles enshrined in the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. They also underlined how such actions are detrimental to Kazakhstan’s international credibility and run against Tokayev’s announcement of making Kazakhstan a “listening state”.   

Read ODF’s reports: