The Warsaw-based NGO Open Dialogue Foundation today appealed to the European Union and the international community to promote the drafting and adoption of the “Zhanaozen list” (similar to the “Magnitsky list”). It proposes, inter alia, to impose personal sanctions against officials, prosecutors, judges, police officers and politicians responsible for the shooting of a demonstration in Zhanaozen in December 2011, the torture and conviction of oil workers, and the persecution of activists, journalists and opposition activists who supported the oil workers.
“This list may also include European politicians who tried to ‘whitewash’ the image of the Kazakhstani authorities after the Zhanaozen shooting for the money of autocrat Nazarbayev,” the NGO Open Dialogue Foundation said in a statement.
In this connection, EU countries are called upon to take a principled position: a condition for signing an Enhanced Partnership Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan should be that Kazakhstan fulfils the EU recommendations regarding the release of political prisoners, ensuring an objective international investigation into the Zhanaozen tragedy, and protecting freedom of speech and assembly.
Four years ago, in Zhanaozen in the west of the country, armed police officers dispersed a demonstration of oil workers who had been demanding higher wages and better working conditions for seven months. The next day, on 17 December, in the village of Shetpe in the Mangystau region, police opened fire on demonstrators who had supported the striking oil workers in Zhanaozen. According to the official data, at least 17 people were killed and over a hundred injured.
On charges of “organisation and participation in mass disorders,” 13 Zhanaozen residents received prison sentences of three to seven years, while 16 others received suspended sentences. Four residents of Shetpe township were sentenced to between four and seven years in prison. During the judicial inquiry, the defendants reported torture and pressure from the investigation. One of the strike leaders, Roza Tuletayeva, was released at the end of 2014, and the remaining oil workers were released from prison in 2015.
The latest inmate in the “Zhanaozen case” is opposition politician Vladimir Kozlov, who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for “inciting social hatred”, “calling for the overthrow of the constitutional order” and “establishing a criminal organisation”. On 8 December, Kozlov was denied parole.
The Kazakhstani authorities claim that the events in Zhanaozen were investigated objectively.