Around Zhanaozen

By Alina Kantor

On the 21th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, debates around Kazakhstan have become one of the topics that attracted keen interest of human rights defenders. Some MPs proposed to adopt a tough resolution to this country in connection with events in Zhanaozen.

Recall Zhanaozen — provincial town on the periphery of Kazakhstan, which was a hotbed of opposition between striking oil workers and local authorities last year. The protests of the workers occurred on the republic’s Independence Day escalated into riots. Chaos gripped the city center; mob looted, burned and destroyed everything. In response to the excesses the police opened fire. As a result of collision many people have been killed.

So this is a short description of what had happened.

It would seem, it’s been quite a long time from that day to completely understand the situation. The observers, lawyers and human rights activists visited Zhanaozen. There have been lawsuits; the independent commission finished its work. However, there is still no single evaluation of those events to this day. There are shown discussions within the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Monaco.

Discussion of hot topics was held in preparation for the general resolution of this issue within the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the PA. Chattering divided into two camps. One side intended on including harsh criticism to the document, doubting the objectivity of the trial of «peaceful strikers,» another more numerous group insisted on the fact that political pressure for justice is inappropriate.

The main critic of this Central Asian republic became the head of the delegation of Monaco Jean-Charles Gardetto, which did not deeply studied the marked subject, and I doubt that he can find this Central Asian republic on the map from the first time.

However, this person was talking about human rights in Kazakhstan, with skill, as a specialist of the highest standard. According the replica of Gardetto it seems that he had talked exclusively with Kazakh opposition, which has clear views on current events.

In particular, Mr. People’s elected called for a universal «fu» in the address of Kazakhstan on the grounds that police officers of Zhanaozen mistreated detainees hoodlums. Kazakh authorities do not deny the fact we observe. In any country, even in such advanced as the United States such embarrassments can take place. The human factor has not been canceled. Enough to recall Guantanamo. Here I am not in any way trying to draw a parallel with Zhanaozen. Detention facilities in this city — a kindergarten compared to the dungeons of the most democratic country in the world. And yet unflattering facts took place. And Kazakhstan responded to them appropriately. The former head of the temporary detention of Zhanaozen Police Lieutenant Zhenisbek Temirov was sentenced to five years in prison.

It turns out that Gardetto criticizes for the sake of criticism. What is the sense of pedaling a question if it is withdrawn from the agenda? For what? Opposing party considers it necessary, because in their view the torture has been continued.

Thus, during the debate German MP Viola von Cramon mentioned the case of the human rights activist and blogger Rosa Toletaeva. This representative of the opposition claimed that she has become a victim tortured by the investigators. However, this is nothing more than words. There are no facts, medical examination was not conducted. Although under the pressure from the international community its organization would not cause any problems. Yes, and there was no need to torture Toletaeva. For what purpose? Names, appearances, passwords? Utter stupidity. Charges, incriminating her did not require any special search of evidence. Everything was on the surface. Organization of riots in Zhanaozen and incitement of social hatred incriminating her were confirmed by testimony.

That is, it was nothing more than a personal PR attempt, an attempt to attract media attention to this person, to put pressure on the court.

We observe a large-scale information war conducted against Kazakhstan, which aims to put pressure on the public, authorities and Themis. There is a pressure without any reason.

West, for example, still believes that the oil strikers as oppressed class that lives almost in a semi-starvation. At the same time there was no information about wages of these workers which under Kazakhstan’s standards can be the envy object for the vast number of citizens. Actually the very strike was artificially produced. It was a provocation, which succeeded at last when the strikers were fired.

And now the key point. For several months the mass of oil workers was in protest and obviously did not work at all. For families who actually live from paycheck to paycheck in Kazakhstan, doing nothing — is unprecedented luxury. It means that the strike has become the workplace of these people. Someone has sponsored protests.

Do you want to know the opinion of Jean-Charles Gardetto on this case ? It turned out that he disagrees with the position of the Kazakh side, seeking political motives in social conflict. Official Astana said that it was a third power, which intervened to a labor dispute, provoked social unrest. This way, there are a lot of evidence of it.

But Mr. Gardetto is impenetrable. He clings to the point of view, which was formed after contact with the NGO «Open Dialogue» from Poland. This NGO is outspoken antagonist of Kazakhstan and is able to present a black paint of any situation. But life as we know, not black and white, it consists of half-tones and every coin has two sides.

In this regard, the most impressing is the position of Holland MP with Turkish origin Koksuna Koruza whose opinion is considered the most «balanced and objective.» Going forward we say that the panelists found hem as the most weighty arguments.

He did not defend Kazakhstan. He just called for the common sense.

The politician believes that before making «judgment» it is necessary to thoroughly examine the case on all sides. Koruz is a former judge, and that is why he considers it necessary to focus on accurate evidence and the equal and uniform standards for all.

«This is a very difficult thing — he said. — ... We must be careful with the use of terms such as «political persecution». If the term is used too often and not connected with the case then it can easily be «devalued».

From these words it is clear that Kazakhstan does not politicize the situation around Zhanaozen. And Koruz is thousand times right when he asks not to mix the flies with cutlets. According to this, any person that trampled laws and the sacred right of property, any offender, the fault of which caused huge material and moral damage to society, can be turned into a dissident who suffer from political beliefs.

Here is an example. Imagine a bank robbery in Zhanaozen.

Robber renders millions, and incidentally burns a poster of pro-government party. Who is he then, the defender of the rights of disadvantaged, a fighter for the rights and freedoms of democracy? Something similar happened in Zhanaozen. Supposedly peaceful demonstrators hacked ATMs, destroyed shops. The trouble of Kazakhstan is that in 20 years of independence, which was accompanied by peace and social welfare, the police of this country was completely unprepared for such a criminal outburst.

Towards the law enforcement agencies was a daunting task — to intervene or distantly watch the destruction of the city. Suppression of rioters by quant was impossible, and therefore firearms were used. Democratic means of suppressing a riot were not in service.

I have no excuses for the police, I am just trying to think objectively when others shout frantically about trampled on human rights. I try to understand what would possibly happen there and how many victims of the looting would have been in this case? The city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan is in this sense a bad example. The inability of the authorities to restore order resulted in the deaths of about 500 people and thousands were injured. That may be the price of such interference.

I would like to note that for the events in Zhanaozen everyone received its «merit». Trials that were held in Aktau can rightfully be called impartial. It’s not just the strikers, but the police and other officials, all who abused or exceeded their authority, have been brought to justice.

However, certain political forces to some unknown skepticism and persistence doubt the ability of Kazakhstan to solve its internal problems. Your judgment is not objective — biased policemen claim.

But thank God, there are sensible people. With regard to the trial on the events in Zhanaozen, the adoption of strict resolution of PA can be interpreted as «political interference» in the proceedings of a sovereign state — this is a summary of the meeting.

There should be no even a shadow of political pressure on judges. It would be a mistake.