Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/698/13345
Kazakhstan - 20 years of authoritarianism!
International day of solidarity action with workers' organisations
On 16 December 2011, the Republic of Kazakhstan celebrates 20 years as an independent state, a status it achieved as the Soviet Union collapsed.
While a clique around president Nazarbayev's family have become extremely rich and the big banks, oil companies and other multinationals have gained almost unrestricted access to the country's wealth and natural resources, the mass of the population lives in dire conditions.
If they dare to speak out, they face repression and violence. Lawyers, human rights activists, journalists and trade unionists are regularly beaten, jailed and some have been murdered.
All the main opposition parties are banned from participating in parliamentary elections next January. The independent trade union, Zhanartu, and the opposition Socialist Movement Kazakhstan, were refused legal registration. Their leaders, Esenbek Ukteshbayev and Ainur Kurmanov, are subject to ludicrous criminal investigations that could lead to prison sentences of up to six years.
Despite all this, EU leaders rush to congratulate President Nazarbayev on Kazakhstan's 20th anniversary. EuroNews carries paid advertisements which portray Kazakhstan as a haven for business. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, is an adviser to Nazarbayev.
Paul McCartney is due to perform at the regime's official 'jubilee concert' to mark independence. We appeal to Paul McCartney to follow the lead of the musician Sting, who cancelled his concert in Kazakhstan, last July, in protest at the violation of the rights of striking oil workers.
The striking oil workers in West Kazakhstan are calling a mass protest on 16 December. They explained this during an hour long skype conference with Irish Socialist Party MEP, Paul Murphy. They explained that they were under huge pressure from the state and employers and that their bank account had been frozen to prevent solidarity support arriving.
Despite this they are not cowed. They are planning their action on the 16th in the hope that it helps to spread information about their situation. Paul in reply explained that the CWI was calling for a day of solidarity on 16 or 17 December precisely to help mobilise support for the strikers.
They have issued a statement rejecting the current political parties in Kazakhstan and calling for a boycott of the coming parliamentary election (in January). They say that because there is no party representing their interests, "the time has come to establish a mass workers' party, which, differing from other political parties, will in deeds rather than words stand up in defence of the interests of the working class, their families and children".
This resolution, passed by a mass meeting, has now been circulating in Kazakhstan as a petition and has already collected over 16,000 signatures.
The Campaign Kazakhstan is organising international protests around Kazakhstan's 'independence' celebrations to highlight the real situation facing opposition activists, oil workers and the majority of people in the country.
In The Socialist 14 December 2011:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party reviews
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis