Kazakhstan: Activists mark Independence Day with unsanctioned protests

Activists rallied in Almaty on December 16

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Dozens of Kazakh opposition and civil rights activists have gathered in the center of the capital, Nur-Sultan, and the country’s biggest city, Almaty, to call for more rights and demand that all political prisoners be released, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.

More than 100 people are protesting in Almaty and dozens more in Nur-Sultan on December 16, Kazakhstan’s Independence Day.

The date also coincides with the 33rd anniversary of mass anti-Soviet demonstrations in Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, and the eighth anniversary of a deadly police crackdown against protests by oil workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen.

The protesters in Almaty and Nur-Sultan chanted slogans such as, “Wake up, Kazakhstan.”

Local officials called on the demonstrators to stop the rallies, saying they were unsanctioned.

About a dozen people, including journalists, were detained by police across Kazakhstan ahead of the demonstrations.

The opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement established by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive tycoon and opposition politician, had announced plans to organize rallies in the two cities and elsewhere in Kazakhstan.

A court in Kazakhstan has banned the DVK movement, branding it an extremist organization.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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