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Voices of Kazakhstan #2: pre-election review of human rights situation

Please, listen to the citizens of Kazakhstan

January 10, 2021, is upon us, and with it comes a critical time for Kazakhstani civil society. With the parliamentary election looming large, the authorities are trying to ruthlessly silence any voice of dissent. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan plays a deceptive game with the international community by inviting – to only a limited number of polling stations – ODIHR international observers. 

To support independent voices of Kazakhstan’s budding civil society, and to keep decision-makers and experts informed about the true state of the human rights situation on the ground, we launched our “Free Kazakhstan Newsletter”. The information published in the newsletter is based on our monitoring of human rights abuse. Over the course of the last 10 years, the Open Dialogue Foundation managed to build a network of over 2,000 volunteers based in over 15 cities scattered throughout the country, who help us gather relevant information. 

The newsletter will appear weekly/biweekly, and will be published on our website and distributed among relevant stakeholders. If you wish to sign up, send us an e-mail titled “newsletter” at: [email protected].


Can Kazakhstan’s citizens escape
the tentacles of the regime?

Repression of independent voices 

Please, listen

Activists and victims of political persecution from different cities of Kazakhstan published a video addressed to representatives of democratic states on the deteriorating human rights situation. Watch here the powerful appeal.

Female opposition activists in Kazakhstan have been shaving their heads in an attempt to be heard. They say that the country is a prison

Intensified political persecution

Some of the judges responsible for sending peaceful activists to pre-trial detention facilities: Ardak Temeshbayevich Nurgaliyev, Baltabay Aduovich Dunbekbayev, and the head of the investigation team A. A. Ekibatusz Aliyev.

Murat Baimagambetov, an arbitrarily detained activist, is experiencing serious health issues, yet the authorities are not providing him with proper treatment. 

Nurgu Kaluova is arrested and is being held in a pre-trial detention facility in an attempt to stop her activism prior to the parliamentary elections. 

Political persecution Punitive psychiatry

On 11 December, blogger and journalist Aigul Utepova was released from the mental health centre to which she had been forcibly sent on 23 November. After a re-examination, psychiatrists concluded that Aigul was mentally healthy. Still, her house arrest was extended until 17 January 2021. A similar case was registered on December 21 against civil activist Suyubayev Asanali. He was put in a psychoneurological clinic against his will for destroying Nur Otan’s campaign poster and recording it on video.

Solidary action organized by human rights activists on the ground

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Barlyk Mendygaziyev is persecuted for paying politically motivated fines on behalf of peaceful oppositionists and for supporting the families of political prisoners. His family members are constantly subjected to pressure through illegal searches and interrogations. 

Tokayev’s “Silencing state”

The authorities of Kazakhstan are openly undermining democratic processes 

The authorities of Kazakhstan are obstructing the transparency of the election process and the ability of watchdogs to conduct their work properly. The CEC latest ruling confirms that the authorities are preparing for mass falsification. The ruling implies that most of the public organisations will not be able to observe or send observers to the elections scheduled for 10 January, 2021. 

New law on “charity”

The attempt to regulate through charitable registries who can donate money & to introduce a registration process for volunteers, the right to receive donations, are the next step in introducing total control over the funding of civil society & civil activism.

Police’s involvement in electoral process and breaches of the right to agitate

On December 20, 2020, simultaneously in 3 cities, law enforcement officers grossly violated the electoral process, the rights of citizens to peaceful agitation and the requirements of the law “On elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan”. More than 10 persons were subjected to illegal searches and seizures of leaflets. In fact, our monitoring registered such cases in a total of 6 cities, yet not everyone is ready to make their case public, the citizens live in constant fear. Each of those illegally searched and detained were distributing Ak Zhol Democratic Party leaflets on a voluntary basis and were exercising their right as voters and citizens of Kazakhstan to campaign for a party. 

International corner

The EU’s incoherence in its promotion and protection of human rights worldwide

The EU delegation to Kazakhstan is ignoring the meeting requests from more than 10 human rights movements on the ground (see part 1 & part 2). While EU diplomats remain silent, 24 MEPs stood up for civil society in Kazakhstan

Italian Senator Emma Bonino demands Italy’s MFA to condemn human rights violations in Kazakhstan (article to be published on our website)

On 25 November 2020, Italian Senator and Member of the Special Commission on Human Rights, Emma Bonino, submitted a written question to Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi di Maio, on the deteriorating human rights situation in Kazakhstan. Among the most important points raised are the request for targeted sanctions, the cases of political killings, in particular the most recent case of Zhanbolat Agadil

Italian MPs alarmed by the human rights backsliding in Kazakhstan (article to be published on our website)

Kazakhstan’s international credibility and its intention of becoming a “listening state” are at stake right before the parliamentary elections as six members of the Italian Parliament expressed their deep concern about the situation on the ground. The MPs were shocked to learn about the death of 5 human rights activists

Tech giants will block Kazakhstan’s web surveillance efforts again

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla ban of the security certificate imposed by the Kazakhstan government confirmed that the authorities’ justification made zero technical sense

Mozilla announced that it will continue to protect its users in Kazakhstan 

The use of VPN software or the Tor Browser was advised for accessing the Web. Mozilla also encouraged Kazakhstan’s citizens to remove the government root certificate from their devices and to immediately update all the passwords.


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