Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 September 2010

Fighting oppression in Kazakhstan

AS PART of a delegation by the European United Left (GUE/NGL) in the European parliament, Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP recently visited Kazakhstan to meet with independent trade union activists, human rights defenders, journalists, ex-prisoners and political activists and people from the social movements. Tanja Niemeier reports.

HUGE BILLBOARDS of Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazerbayev are displayed on the road between the newly built capital city Astana and the mining area Karaganda, 200 kilometres south of Astana. They show the president surrounded by happy looking people. The billboards seem to portray the image of a widely popular "leader of the nation". Nothing could be further from the truth.

In June 2010, a law was passed that essentially turns Nazerbayev into president for life. The same law forbids any criticism of the president and members of his family. Disgracefully, this law was passed while Kazakhstan chaired the OSCE (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), an international organisation that claims to defend and monitor democratic rights. However, according to OSCE sources, no official criticism of this law was made by any of the 56 member states of the OSCE.

Nazerbayev has ruled Kazakhstan for the past 20 years and receives Stalinist-type election results of 91% support, which subsequently leaves Nazerbayev's party as the only party in the parliament. These results were not only questioned by the opposition but also by international monitoring organisations. This has turned the country into a very difficult climate for oppositionists.

Vadim Kuramshin, a well respected lawyer and human rights activist was arrested two days before our first meeting in Karaganda where he wanted to give evidence of the humiliating conditions prisoners face. [Vadim was released from prison in Kokshetau, in the north of Kazakhstan only hours after Joe's delegation left the country.]

The prisons in Kazakhstan are overcrowded. In August, self-inflicted mass cuttings of wrists and stomachs took place in a prison in the Karaganda region in protest against the barbaric conditions of the prison regime which they face day in and day out.

The authorities are obviously frightened that the truth travels around the world and that is why Vadim Kuramshin was arrested.

"If this government does not even grant the basic democratic and workers' rights to its population, then it is not surprising that they treat prisoners in this disgraceful way", reports an activist of Kazakhstan 2012, a political movement that tries to unite the different protest and social movements across the country.

Dedicated fighters

One of the priorities for Kazakhstan 2012 is the building of independent trade unions that can effectively defend the interests of working class and poor people in the country. Most of the official trade unions are remnants of the old Stalinist state unions and are in the pockets of the government, others are company based and very often controlled if not set up by management itself.

Families of miners, scientific researchers, medical workers, oil workers, railway workers - some of whom spent 44 hours on the train to meet with us - spoke about explosions in the mines that leave workers dead or injured due to the lack of health and safety rules.

Despite the repressive character of the regime, we met dedicated fighters who want to see change in the country and are determined not to bow to the regime.

There is also a widespread understanding of the corruption of the regime and the fact that the huge wealth of the country is handed over to big multinational companies while people live in dire economic circumstances.

It seems that it would not take much to spark a major movement across the country. "We will need to fight until we become bosses in our own home again", said another activist from Kazakhstan 2012 who thanked Joe for coming and listening to the ordinary people of the country.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 September 2010:

Join the fight against cuts

Socialist Party editorial

Decisive action can defeat this government

TUC congress

TUC backs youth jobs demo

TUC told to name the day

TUC: Build for action against cuts

Socialist Party youth and students

Stop the 'slippery slope' to two-tier education

How will the Browne Review into university funding affect you?

Student strikes can win results

Feature: Socialist Party women

Women and the struggle against oppression

Socialist Party news and analysis

Royal Mail: Con-Demned to history?

Privatisation's giant wrecking ball

Fight the jobs cuts massacre

Middlesborough local union-led public services alliance set up

Fast news

General strike in France

Osborne targets the needy

Labour councillors challenged in Hastings

Shropshire: showing socialist alternative gets results

Socialist Party workplace news

London Underground: Action biting against job cuts

UCU executive pulls out of strike ballot

Fight for jobs at GSK

Workplace news in brief

Anti-cuts campaign

Mood of defiance in Huddersfield

Hull park rangers protest

How do we vote to stop the cuts?

Nottinghamshire: Campaign saves vital service

Lobbies warn councils of workers' action

Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010: How can we save the environment?

International socialist news and analysis

All-India general strike: Eyewitness report from Chennai

Fighting oppression in Kazakhstan

Socialist Party review

The Third Man


Home   |   The Socialist 15 September 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleProtests against state repression in Russia and Kazakhstan

triangleSyria: Is an end to the war in sight?

triangleFifth anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre

triangleSolidarity with protesters in Kazakhstan


triangleNorthern Ireland: killing of Lyra McKee

triangleWorldwide threat to journalists at worst for ten years

triangleAberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

triangleJournalists' union leaders defeat call for political fund, but potential for left grows

Joe Higgins:

triangleIrish general election: fighting on an anti-austerity agenda

Human rights:

triangleLondon: Political undercover policing - public meeting

triangleDodgy MP lobbied for genocidal Sri Lankan leader


triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism


triangleUndervalued gritters to walk out





Millions strike in France


South Africa

South African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action


Hong Kong

Hong Kong's uprising


Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Presidential election sees return of dictatorial Rajapaksa clan



Regime's fuel price rise sparks massive protests across Iran



Amazon bosses defeated in Seattle - Kshama Sawant reelected



Chile revolt continues: read eyewitness report



Bolivia: Right-wing coup ousts Morales


Kshama Sawant

Kshama Sawant reelected in Seattle



End repression in Chile - freedom for soldier David Veloso



Chile in revolt



Chile: An outpouring of rage against the capitalist system



Solidarity with the Kurdish people



Catalonia: Draconian prison sentences of independence leaders provokes mass protests and strikes



China at the crossroads: 70 years since the declaration of the People's Republic of China

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019