Kazakhstan: Court Imposes Harsh Terms on Activists

Washington

In response to a court in Atyrau, Kazakhstan sentencing Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan to five years imprisonment for their roles in the May 2016 protests against a land privatization plan, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan have faced false charges, a long and unjustified pre-trial detention, a flawed trial, and now face unjustified imprisonment for peaceful protests against the government,” said Daniel Calingaert, acting president.  “Their imprisonment shows the government’s intolerance of dissent and public protest.”

Background:
Authorities arrested Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan on May 17, 2016 in the western city of Atyrau after the two helped organize a protest against a proposed bill on land privatization. The demonstration was attended by thousands, sparked protests nationwide, and eventually forced the government to enact a five-year moratorium on land reform. Bokayev and Ayan were detained while awaiting trial and were denied critical medical treatment. On November 28, seven months after their arrest, a court convicted them of inciting social unrest, spreading false information, and violating the law on public gatherings.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 6.61, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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