Press release January 6, 2022
Kazakhstan: Freedom House Urges De-escalation of Violence, Movement Toward Rule of Law
All sides should refrain from violence and engage in good-faith dialogue that creates a path toward the rule of law and full respect for human rights.
In response to the unrest in Kazakhstan, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The rapid escalation of violence following protests in multiple cities, coupled with nationwide internet shutdowns, is extremely dangerous and threatens the physical security of the people of Kazakhstan,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “We urge all sides to refrain from violence and engage in good-faith dialogue that creates a path toward the rule of law and full respect for human rights. Full access to the internet and digital communication platforms must be restored to ensure citizens’ open access to media reports, other up-to-date information, and essential services.”
On January 1, protestors in the city of Zhanaozen, in Kazakhstan’s western region of Mangystau, took to the streets to protest rapidly rising fuel prices. Over the next few days, the protests spread to cities in a majority of Kazakhstan’s regions, and reports of acts of violence by demonstrators and the authorities emerged. At the end of January 5, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that more than 200 people had been detained, 317 people had been wounded, and 8 police and National Guard troops had been killed. Video evidence depicted authorities’ use of tear gas and stun grenades against demonstrators, and there were reports that journalists had been detained, threatened, and shot at. Internet connectivity and access to essential digital platforms was limited and then restricted on January 4, and a nationwide internet blackout took place on January 5. Connectivity has since been partially restored, but remains unreliable. Late on January 5, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) authorized deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Kazakhstan.
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