“The Ukrainian government must support the people of Kazakhstan,” human rights defenders.

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The Ukrainian human rights defence community is deeply concerned about the strained situation in Kazakhstan. In the light of dynamically changing events, we call on the authorities of Kazakhstan to stop violating their international human rights obligations in response to the protests, to make every effort to resolve the situation peacefully and build a dialogue with the society.

The present circumstances occurred after peaceful protests against rising prices for liquefied natural gas in the city of Zhanaozen began to spread to other cities of Kazakhstan. Tens of thousands of people joined the protests, and the protesters made the additional demands. They expressed deep dissatisfaction with the authoritarian government, economic and social inequality, lack of democratic processes and widespread corruption, which has led to the concentration of wealth within a small political and economic elite.

Severe clashes took place in Almaty between law enforcement agencies and security officials on the one hand, and protesters on the other on the 5th of January. Some protesters seized government buildings and other public infrastructure, including Almaty airport. The government resigned. Addressing the nation of Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev threatened to apply “the toughest” measures against the protesters. Later, the authorities of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency. The same night, there ware reported shootings, explosions, arson and looting in Almaty. President Tokayev call for assistance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a defence union of a number of post-Soviet states where the Russian Federation is a key player, to deal with the threat he called “terrorist”. Later the same night, the government of Kazakhstan announced the launch of an counter-terrorist operation.

According to the country’s Ministry of Health, 400 people were hospitalized as a result of the clashes, and 62 people were placed to intensive care. Several dozens of policemen and protesters were killed in the clashes, according to police. The accurate number of casualties and dead protesters is currently not available. There are reports of blatant disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officers and serious professional misconduct. According to the local human rights defence organizations, more than 2,000 people have been detained across the country so far. However, the authorities provide information, as of January 5, only about 200 people detained. In accordance with the local monitors, the right of detainees to have the protection of a lawyer has been restricted as weell as the realization of the right to an objective investigation and a fair trial.

Since yesterday, periodically the access to the Internet was blocked, both wired and mobile. Journalists were detained while executing their professional duties. The grave violations of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of access to information, association and peaceful assembly in Kazakhstan are a matter of serious concern.

According to recent reports, foreign troops from CSTO member states are being deployed in some cities in Kazakhstan, including Almaty, to quell protests. We consider the use of foreign troops to maintain the current authorities of Kazakhstan a foreign intervention, similar to the use of troops of Warsaw Pact to suppress protests in the controlled by USSR Eastern European countries in the second half of the 20th century, in particular the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring.

As the disturbing situation continues to develop rapidly, we continue to keep a watchful eye on further developments or deterioration. We support the calls of the representatives of the UN, the EU and the OSCE, other international organisations and the governments of foreign states for prudent and a peaceful resolution of the current situation. We support the people of Kazakhstan in striving for democratic transformations of their state.

We urge the government of Kazakhstan to:

  • Guarantee respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all residents of Kazakhstan;
  • Prevent the use of military force to resolve Kazakhstan’s internal conflicts with the help of foreign troops and security forces;
  • Ensure an independent, transparent, prompt and effective investigation of all cases of the use of force by law enforcement and military personnel that have resulted in casualties;
  • Prosecute the responsible officials for excessive use of force and abuse of office;
  • Ensure respect for the right to a fair trial for detained protesters;
  • Guarantee respect for the right to freedom of information and unhindered access to various means of communication, including access to the Internet;
  • Guarantee the complete safety of all journalists and their ability to cover events. Refrain from detaining any journalists. Investigate all violations of journalists’ rights immediately;
  • Provide an opportunity for representatives of civil society and international institutions to monitor the situation without impediments and provide members of the National Preventive Mechanism with possibility to visit the detained protesters.
  • Proactively contribute to the cooperation with the OSCE and the United Nations in resolving the current situation in Kazakhstan.

We call on the Government of Ukraine to:

  • Make a statement in support of resolving the situation in Kazakhstan in strict compliance with international human rights standards and respect for the principles of democracy;
  • Support the people of Kazakhstan in pursuing the right to transparent democratic elections and governance;
  • Ensure security and, if necessary, provide a safe way to leave Kazakhstan for all the citizens of Ukraine who are currently residing in the Republic of Kazakhstan.


Human Rights Centre ZMINA

Center for Civil Liberties

Institute of Mass Information


NGO “Human Rights Vector”

Human Rights Center DIYA

Vostok SOS

Human Rights Center Postup

Human Rights Platform

 Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv


Center for Civic Education “Almenda”

Free Belarus Center


NGO The Free Russia House

No Borders Project

The Crimean Human Rights Group

Human Rights House “Crimea”