Association of
UKRAINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORS
on LAW ENFORCEMENT

Joint statement by members of the Civic Solidarity Platform and other NGOs on the alarming situation in Kazakhstan

logo_web_23We, the undersigned members of the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) and other NGOs are  extremely concerned about the tense situation in Kazakhstan. In the light of rapidly evolving  events, we urge all protesters to refrain from the use of violence and the authorities of  Kazakhstan to ensure that all their actions taken in response to the protests strictly comply  with their obligations under international human rights law and are aimed at de-escalating  the situation peacefully.  

The current situation evolved after peaceful protests against rising fuel prices in the town of  Zhanaozen spread to several other cities across the country, with thousands of people  participating and additional demands being voiced by protestors. On 5 January, clashes  ensued in Almaty between law enforcement and security forces and protesters, some of which  seized government buildings and other public property, including Almaty airport. Late on 5  January, a nation-wide state of emergency was declared in Kazakhstan following the earlier  resignation of the government cabinet and a pledge by President Tokayev to use the ‘’harshest  possible’’ measures against the protesters. There were reports of shooting, arson and acts of  looting in Almaty at night. Yesterday President Tokayev requested assistance from the  Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance between six post-Soviet  states in order to combat a threat he classified as “terrorist”, and CSTO peacekeeping forces  are reportedly already on their way to Kazakhstan.  

According to official information, at least 300 people have been injured, and several dozen  police officers and protesters have died during clashes. The exact number of casualties and  deaths among protesters is unclear at this time, reinforcing concerns about disproportionate  use of force. According to the authorities, over 200 persons have been detained so far during  the protests across the country, although observers report that the real figure is much higher.  According to observers, detainees have been denied access to lawyers and there are serious  concerns about the failure to safeguard their right to due process and fair trials. There have  been re-occurring internet outages in the country since yesterday and some journalists have  reportedly been detained when carrying out their professional obligations. The well documented pattern of systematic violations of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in  Kazakhstan reinforces our concerns regarding the current situation.  

As the situation evolves, we continue to monitor the situation closely. We welcome the  appeals for restraint and peaceful solutions made by representatives of the EU, OSCE, UN and 

other international institutions and foreign governments, and call on protesters to refrain  from unlawful measures and on the authorities of Kazakhstan to: 

– Ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all residents are respected at all  times, and that the current situation does not escalate into an armed conflict; – Ensure that their response to the ongoing protests is in strict compliance with  international human rights standards, in particular that non-violent means are  exhausted in each case before the use of force, and that the use of force is  proportionate, damage and injury is minimized and human lives protected; – Respect the right of residents to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and  freedom of association and ensure that any restrictions imposed on these rights meet  the requirements of international human rights law, including by distinguishing  between peaceful and non-peaceful protest participants; 

– Ensure that cooperation with CSTO forces is carried out strictly within the framework  of international law and does not result in human rights violations; 

– Provide full information about the number of people who have been detained in  connection with the protests in the last few days, as well as where they are held, and  ensure that they have prompt access to legal assistance, and that their right to  freedom from torture and ill-treatment, due process and fair trials are respected;  

– Provide full figures of the number of protesters who have been injured and killed, and  ensure independent, transparent, prompt and effective investigation into these cases,  as well as all cases of the use of force by law enforcement authorities and military  resulting in casualties with a view to holding any official responsible for the excessive  use of force accountable; 

– Ensure that any measures taken to investigate and prosecute unlawful actions by  protestors are in full accordance with due process requirements and Kazakhstan’s  international obligations; 

– Ensure respect of the right to freedom of information and unhindered access to  different means of communication, including the internet;  

– Refrain from detaining journalists who are covering the events as part of their  professional duties and ensure the safety of journalists;  

– Ensure that civil society representatives are able to monitor the situation without  hindrance and allow representatives from the National Preventative Mechanism to  visit detained protesters; 

– Fully cooperate with the OSCE and the UN in resolving the current situation.  

Signatories:  

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (France) 

Association UMDPL (Ukraine) 

Belarusian Helsinki Committee (Belarus) 

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria) 

Centre for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)

Centre for Participation and Development (Georgia) 

Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russian Federation) Citizens’ Watch (Russian Federation) 

Crude Accountability (The United States of America) 

Foundation of Regional Initiatives (Ukraine) 

Freedom Now (The United States of America) 

Georgian Centre For Psychosocial And Medical Rehabilitation Of Torture Victims (GCRT)  (Georgia) 

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor (Armenia) 

Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (Poland) 

Human Rights Centre (HRC) (Georgia) 

Human rights center Viasna (Belarus) 

Human Rights Center ZMINA (Ukraine) 

Human Rights Club (Azerbaijan) 

Human Rights Matter e.V. (Germany) 

Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania) 

Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” (Kyrgyzstan) 

Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary) 

International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) (Belgium) 

KRF Public Alternative (Ukraine) 

Lawtrend (Belarus) 

Legal Initiative (Belarus) 

Libereco Partnership for Human Rights (Germany) 

Macedonian Helsinki Committee (North Macedonia) 

Netherlands Helsinki Committee (Netherlands) 

Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway) 

Office of Civil Liberties (Tajikistan) 

Promo LEX (Moldova) 

Protection of Rights without Borders (Armenia) 

Public Foundation Notabene (Tajikistan) 

Public organization “Dawn” (Tajikistan) 

Public Verdict (Russian Federation) 

SOVA Center (Russian Federation)

Swedish OSCE-network (Sweden) Swiss Helsinki Committee (Switzerland) Truth Hounds (Ukraine) 

Vostok SOS (Ukraine)

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