On 23 June at least eight journalists were targeted and detained in a round of mass arrests ahead of a planned protest in the city of Almaty. This disturbing video shows people being grabbed off the streets by uniformed, often balaclava-wearing security agents.
IFEX members call on officials in Kazakhstan to review the law on ‘dissemination of deliberately false information’ as well as the disproportionate and legally questionable actions recently taken against critical media.
Kazakh opposition journalist Zhanbolat Mamay was finally released but was sentenced to a three-year restriction on his movements and a three-year ban on working as a journalist after being convicted on a trumped-up money-laundering charge.
Members of IFEX wrote an open letter on behalf of Kazakh Editor Zhanbolat Mamay, calling for a fair and impartial handling of charges against him and full investigation into his mistreatment in prison and threats made to his family.
Zhanbolat Mamay, editor of the Kazakh opposition newspaper Sayasi kalam/Tribuna was handed a two-month detention order on 11 February 2017. If found guilty, he faces up to seven years in jail.
The government called it “social discord”, “knowingly spreading false information” and “violating the law regulating public assemblies”. To the people who organized it, it was just a peaceful gathering.
Hundreds of people in Kazakhstan rallied in April and May against proposed land reforms that would extend from 10 years to 25 years the time for which foreigners could lease land in Kazakhstan. Maks Bokaev and Talgat Aya – the activists on trial – had leading roles in one of the largest protests.
“The use of malware to spy on and intimidate dissidents beyond their borders is an increasingly common tactic employed by oppressive governments,” said Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst at EFF and one of the report’s authors.
Three activists in western Kazakhstan face prosecution in retaliation for peaceful protests in April and May 2016 against land code changes.
“Coming days after nationwide protests against the proposed land reform, and the arrest of the protest organizers last week, the verdict against Guzyal Baidalinova on spurious charges of libel is part of the Kazakhstan government’s crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression.”
Those arrested and charged with “distributing leaflets for an unauthorized rally” or “sowing social discord” include Ermek Narymbai, Asylbek Amantayev, Kuat Kunbolatov, Marat Uatkan, and Suyundyk Aldabergenov.
A joint letter to Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev calling for review of recent state actions towards Seytkazy Matayev and the National Press Club.
In a press conference in Almaty, Tamara Kaleyeva, head of Adil Soz, and local journalist Yermurat Bapi told journalists that charges against Seytkazy Matayev were retaliation for critical reports KazTag and the press club had published ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on 20 March.
Authorities arrested the men in October 2015 in connection with Facebook posts about a text, attributed to another activist, which describes the Kazakh nation in provocative terms. Authorities claimed that the posts contained signs of ‘inciting national discord.’