In the weeks of 26 September – 7 October the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) held its 2022 Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, serving as a summit, or plenary session, of the OSCE’s human rights institution. The conference was attended by OSCE Member States’ Permanent Representatives (i.e. ambassadors) as well as representatives of human rights organisations from around the world.
ODF, as always, was present at the conference to advocate for human rights and fundamental freedoms in two of the regions we work in. Our delegation took the floor in three of the plenary sessions.
On 27 September, Mr Barlyk Mendygaziyev, President of the Freedom Kazakhstan foundation whom we invited to take part in the summit, gave his remarks during Plenary Session I: “Democratic Institutions”, which tackled, among others, the topic of “Equal participation in political and public life”.
Below is the text and recording of his intervention, in which he reported on the current, dramatic situation faced by human rights defenders and activists trying to enjoy their right to peaceful protest in Kazakhstan.
My name is Barlyk Mendygaziyev. I am a human rights philanthropist and opposition activist.
In my speech today, I would like to highlight violations of the Rights of Citizens of Kazakhstan to peaceful assembly and association, as well as the persecution of human rights defenders.⠀
Mass peaceful protests in Kazakhstan in January 2022 were met by authorities with shootings, beatings and torture of peaceful protesters. According to official information alone, over 10,000 people have been detained, 238 people have been killed in shootings, and hundreds have been reported missing. Mass torture of peaceful protesters, including with Russian and CSTO military personnel, is not being investigated at all.
Peaceful assemblies are banned in Kazakhstan. This year alone the authorities have issued 107 unjustified refusals to hold peaceful assemblies, thereby violating the rights of Citizens to peaceful assembly. Under the conditions of Russia’s war of occupation against Ukraine, the Kazakh authorities do not give permission to hold peaceful assemblies in support of Ukraine and moreover prosecute them for it.
Human rights defenders, such as Raigul Sadyrbaeva, Aya Sadvakasova, Bakhytzhan Toregozhina, Shalipa Bekkulova and others, who collect information on the shootings, torture and persecution of peaceful demonstrators who participated in the January events this year, are also subjected to political repression by the Kazakh authorities.
My brother Bekizhan Mendygaziev and my colleagues Baurzhan Dzhusupov, Natalia Dauletyarova are imprisoned as hostages in connection with my human rights and opposition activities.
Kazakhstan claims to have implemented political reforms, including with regard to the registration of political parties. However, the authorities do not register opposition parties, creating artificial obstacles by persecuting opposition politicians and activists. In particular, the authorities have already twice this year refused to register the opposition party Alga Kazakhstan. The authorities continue to harass supporters of the peaceful opposition movements Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan and the Street Party, which are banned in Kazakhstan as allegedly “extremist”.
The political reforms declared by the authorities of Kazakhstan are an attempt to deceive the democratic countries in order to avoid personal responsibility.
Therefore I call on the governments of the OSCE countries to demand that the authorities of Kazakhstan stop repressing human rights defenders, peaceful protesters and register all opposition parties in Kazakhstan.