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President Bush Urged to Highlight Kazakhstan's Democratic Shortcomings with President Nazarbaev
Freedom House sent a letter to President Bush today regarding the upcoming visit of President Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan. The letter outlined Kazakhstan's democratic shortcomings, and urged President Bush to make clear to President Nazarbaev that the U.S. does not support Kazakhstan as chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009.
The text of the letter is below.
September 27, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The upcoming visit of President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan presents you with a critical opportunity to reinforce your commitment to promoting democracy and human rights around the world. We urge you to make clear to President Nazarbaev that the U.S. does not support Kazakhstan as chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009.
We recognize that Kazakhstan is an important state whose cooperation is essential to combating terrorism and stabilizing Central Asia. Yet our annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World, confirms that Kazakhstan has been Not Free for the past twelve years - the majority of its life as a post-Soviet country - and last year saw further political deterioration. Crackdowns on local Kazakh civic groups and political parties have now been joined by efforts to hobble the work of international democracy promoters, as well.
President Nazarbaev has held office in Kazakhstan since 1989, and has built a strong authoritarian regime that allows only his inner circle of family, friends, and business associates access to vital resources and key positions. During the months preceding the most recent presidential election in 2005, the Kazakh government intensified harassment against political activists and independent journalists. That election was criticized by most international observers, including the OSCE, for not meeting international standards.
Even while President Nazarbaev has campaigned over the past year for the OSCE chairmanship, his government has become increasingly repressive. This is in direct violation of the fundamental principles upon which the OSCE was founded, and as reaffirmed by the Copenhagen Declaration.
We urge you to make clear to President Nazarbaev that, unless ameliorating actions are taken very soon, you will be obliged to oppose Kazakhstan's bid to chair of the OSCE.
Jennifer L. Windsor
Cc: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Ambassador Julie Finley, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE
Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman, Helsinki Commission
Congressman Christopher Smith, Co-Chairman, Helsinki Commission
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.