Press release January 21, 2016
Kazakhstan Imprisons Critics for Online Commentary
Freedom House issued the following statement in response to the criminal conviction and imprisonment of civic activists Serikzhan Mambetalin and Ermek Narymbaev for “inciting social hatred.”
Following the criminal conviction and imprisonment of civic activists Serikzhan Mambetalin and Ermek Narymbaev for “inciting social hatred,” Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The imprisonment of Mambetalin and Narymbaev for what should be protected speech is another example of the government of Kazakhstan’s systematic efforts to muzzle criticism of any kind," said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “Sending activists to prison for critical online commentary is the action of a government afraid of its own citizens.”
Ermek Narymbaev, a civic activist, and Serikzhan Mambetalin, former head of the Rukhaniyat party, were arrested October 12 and charged with “inciting social hatred” because of posts on social media. Both activists deny the charges and state that the information posted is from a book freely available online.
Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015, 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 2015.