Kazakhstan: Urgent Appeal

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxx.xx
Mon Mar 17 10:19:56 MST 2003


(please forward)

 KAZAKSTAN
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE ­ FIGHTERS FOR THEIR CLASS!

Saken Zhanusov, Rustem Zhanusov and Ramil Mingazov have become victims of
Nursultan Nazarbayev¹s dictatorial regime. The first two are currently in
prison awaiting their appeal against their three years sentences on trumped
up charges and the latter is struggling to even think how he can pay the
huge fine of over 4000 US dollars that the court in Karaganda is forcing him
to pay. 

After the collapse of the USSR the Kazakstan government has forced through a
programme of neo-liberal reforms, in particular privatization. This has left
hundreds of thousands of workers without jobs, or if they are working often
with huge wage arrears. In Karaganda, the "Association of Free Trade Unions"
led by Ramil Mingazov and the "Workers Movement (Solidarnost)" led by Saken
Zhanusov, assisted by the Rights Organisation "Blago" led by Rustem Zhanusev
have been at the forefront of fight to defend the rights of these workers.

As a result of their activities, since 1999 the workers at 5 factories in
the city have managed to get over 750,000 US dollars worth of wages
returned. Understandably the city¹s corrupt bosses are not happy and they
have launched a real witch hunt against these workers¹ leaders. Saken, for
example has been taken to court over 20 times for various civil offences. In
addition they have been subject to many physical threats, including death
threats. 
    
These sentences are clearly of a political character, intended to take these
three workers¹ leaders out of action and to show that the regime is in full
control. They are intended to restrict the struggle of those who are
struggling for a democratic and just Kazakhstan, where workers get paid for
the work they do and not treated like slaves.
           
The two prisoners have been kept in horrific conditions. Although they both
suffer from bad health they were kept in the cellars of the city remand
prison, where damp and cold was a fact of life. Now they have been
transferred to a prison 400 kilometers away. They have lodged an appeal
against their sentence but the fact that they are so far away no raises the
possibility that the appeal will take place in their absence ­ in just the
same way as the judge in the original trial refused them the right to
appoint their own advocate.

The Association of Free Trade Unions of Karaganda, the Executive Committee
of the Workers Movement (Solidarnost) of Kazakhstan and the Committee for a
Workers¹ International (Kazakhstan) are launching an urgent appeal to assist
these Prisoners of Conscience.

We are asking for letters and faxes of protest demanding that Saken, Ramil
and Rustem are given the right to a free trial with their own appointed
advocate, that Saken and Rustem are transferred immediately back to
Karaganda and released on bail, that the fine against Ramil is dropped and
that those responsible for not paying the wages earned by workers in the
city are put on trial.
Freedom for Saken and Rustem Zhanusov.

Please send protests to:
Court President A Kacimov, Oblastnoi Sud, ul. Bukhar Zhirau dom 337,
Karaganda, Republic of Kazakhstan  Telephone/fax 007-3212-742783.
Faxes should be sent in working time, Karaganda in 5 hours ahead of London
time. Copies should be sent by email to ainur1917 at mail.ru.

In addition the appeal is going to cost in the region of 2500 euros in a
city where average monthly wages are less than 100 euros. For security
reasons we are asking any trade union or left organizations that are able to
contribute to please do so by contacting the Kazakhstan Solidarity Committee
by email on pabgem at online.ru. Details of the bank account for transfer will
then be given. Full receipts will be provided for any transfer.        


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