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Kazakhstan: Oil workers jailed by rotten regime
Last December armed police fired on and killed up to 70 striking oil workers who were peacefully protesting in the Kazakhstan city of Zhanaozen.
Yet instead of charging the interior minister, who gave the order to open fire, 37 oil workers and supporters were put on trial for "organising and participating in mass unrest".
Only three of the 37 have been cleared of all charges. 21 of those on trial were sentenced to either two or three years in prison, with the sentence suspended or, in a couple of cases, subject to amnesty. 13 activists, however, received actual prison sentences ranging from three years to, in the case of Roza Tuletaeva, seven years.
Roza, a mother of three children, was one of the leading activists in the oil strike. During the trial she related how she nearly suffocated when bags were put over her head during interrogation and she was beaten with iron rods.
To avoid blame being directed at the regime itself, the general prosecutor picked out a number of scapegoats from the local authorities and police to put on trial. Undoubtedly guilty of the crimes for which they were charged, they nevertheless have served the role of letting higher up figures off the hook.
Kazakhstan is a police state ruled by president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his cronies, who have looted the country to grow rich and buy international allies such as 'consultant' Tony Blair, while the majority live in poverty.
It is now reported that another wave of arrests and torture is taking place. Up to 15 more activists from the oil strike, along with leaders of the opposition political party Alga, are expected to be put on trial for "inciting social discontent" with a possible sentence of up to 12 years imprisonment.
Trade union activists from the OzenMunaiGaz company are being called in for questioning, in an attempt to intimidate them from organising a new strike. Following questioning, one 51 year old activist committed suicide.
However, local trade union activists report that the workers are still determined to protest, whether outside the city mayor's office or by preparing new strikes in the region. According to one of the local leaders, the next trial is being prepared, not to take revenge for the last strike, but to try and prevent the next one.
See www.campaignkazakhstan.org for more reports
Workers leader found dead
On 5 June Takhir Mukhamedzyanov, leader of the opposition Socialist Movement Kazakhstan, was found dead in his flat. His death is surrounded by suspicion. Not least because Takhir recently received threats from "persons unknown" that they would 'get rid of him'.
Read obituary on www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 13 June 2012:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news