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Women’s rights in Kazakhstan. ODF at the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting 2021

On 8 March 2021 our representative Maksym Sytnikov participated in the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM). SHDM is a platform for the OSCE Participating States and civil society to discuss progress made in implementing OSCE commitments. The latest meeting was held online.

During the intervention Maksym Sytnikov brought attention to the situation of women in Kazakhstan.

Similarly as in Belarus, the Kazakhstani protest movement has a woman’s face. Women also fall victim to repression more often than men. During peaceful opposition protests women are subjected to particular violence. They are beaten, detained, interrogated, arrested and fined. Male police officers often initiate inappropriate physical contact with female activists while carrying out body searches.

Some female activists are taken to police stations with their infants, where they spent several hours being interrogated, as it was with human rights activists Anna Shukeyeva and Oksana Shevchuk.

Sytnikov also raised the issue of accusing human rights defenders Anna Shukeyeva, Raigul Sadyrbayeva and 11 other activists of “financing terrorism”.

Another blatant case of prosecution of women is repression against the women’s human rights movement Femina Virtute and its leaders: Aizhan Ismakova, Ubolsyn Turdiyeva, Sholpan Dzhanzakova, who are prosecuted under Article 405 of the Criminal Code (“participation in the activities of the organisation after it was declared extremist”). 

At the moment at least 35 female activists are under criminal prosecution in Kazakhstan. 4 are political prisoners. Thousands of women are subjected to other forms of persecution by the government of Kazakhstan for defending citizens’ rights and freedoms.

Such actions indicate that Kazakhstani authorities misinform international partners about the “Tokayev’s listening state” and directly violate international obligations politically persecuting activists.

Taking into account the above crimes of the Kazakhstani regime against women, especially their freedom of expression, we feel obliged to provide the OSCE Member States with the women’s call to impose personal sanctions against the perpetrators of human rights abuses in Kazakhstan: Chairman of the National Security Committee Karim Massimov and his First Deputy Samat Abish, Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev, Prosecutor General Gizat Nurdauletov and Chairman of the Security Council and First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.