Kazakhstan: Sentencing Of Human Rights Defender Ms Roza Tuletaeva
On 4 June 2012, Aktau Court announced its decision in the case related to the December 2011 events which occurred in the town of Zhanaozen. Of the thirty seven defendants, thirteen were sentenced to terms of imprisonment from three to seven years. Labour rights and human rights defender Ms Roza Tuletaeva, a leader of the workers' strike of oil company OzenMunaiGaz, was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment under Article 241 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan for the alleged organisation of mass unrest.
During the reading of the Court's decision, the presiding judge was forced to raise his voice and eventually leave the court room, due to the loud crying and noise made by members of the pubic who vehemently objected to the ruling.
Roza Tuletaeva faces another trial in late June, in a case initiated by the National Security Service against public figures including Roza Tuletaeva, who are accused of “incitement of social enmity” under Article 164 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan. Charges under this article can result in a sentence of imprisonment from three to ten years.
On 16 December 2011, a date that marked the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence, a mass demonstration took place in Zhanaozen, which resulted in clashes between police, former oil workers and members of the public. According to the General Prosecutor's office, fourteen people died and sixty four people received gunshot wounds as a result of the clashes.
Roza Tuletaeva was arrested on 3 January 2012 at her home in Zhanaozen. On 16 April 2012, she testified that she was subjected to torture during her detention. During the trial, most of the thirty seven defendants fully or partially retracted their testimonies, which they stated were obtained by police using torture. In addition, lawyers of the defendants and local trial observers expressed concern at procedural irregularities of the trial.
Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing and ongoing detention of Roza Tuletaeva, as it believes that these actions are solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful work as a human rights defender in Kazakhstan, in particular her defence of the rights of striking OzenMunaiGaz workers. Front Line Defenders calls for her immediate and unconditional release and for her sentencing to be reversed.
Front Line Defenders remains concerned at the reported torture of the defender while in detention and urges the authorities to launch an immediate and impartial investigation into this, and into reports of torture from other defendants which emerged during the trial. Front Line Defenders also reiterates its concern over the criminal investigation and procedural irregularities of the court hearing, and calls for a thorough and impartial investigation of the Zhanaozen events of December 2011.
For more information on this case, please see Front Line Defenders' update dated 17 May 2012 (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/18331), and urgent appeals dated 26 April 2012 (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/18151) and 16 January 2012 (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/17057) respectively.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Kazakhstan. HERE