From Our Member Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) – Letter of Solidarity for Yerzhan Yelshibaev
15 April 2022 3:19 pm

Yerzhan Yelshibaev lived in Zhanaozen, a city in western Kazakhstan, located in the center of Kazakhstan’s oil-rich region. At the same time, the unemployment rate in Zhanaozen remains one of the highest in the country.

In the wake of the general dissatisfaction of Zhanaozen residents with this situation, Yerzhan acted as one of the initiators of rallies demanding to create jobs for the unemployed and increase wages for workers. At the rallies, Yerzhan criticized President Nazarbayev, accusing him of corruption and inefficient management of the state budget.

In fact, this became the reason for the criminal prosecution against him. However, in fact, Yelshibaev was accused of “inflicting bodily harm” during a domestic fight two years ago in 2017, according to the investigation, the activist allegedly injured an unknown person.

On October 17, 2019, he was sentenced to five years in prison under the article “Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm out of hooligan motives” (“clause 7, part 2, article 106 of the Criminal Code)

Human rights activists and Yelshibaev himself consider the charge against him to be persecution for his public activities and civic activism.

The persecution of Yelshibaev continued in places of deprivation of liberty, in the person of employees of the Institution ZK-169/5, who provoked Yerzhan to illegal acts and tried to drive Yerzhan to suicide.

Yelshibaev repeatedly complained about pressure from the staff of the institution. In August 2020, he sewed his mouth shut as a protest against the misconduct of the prison administration. And in July 2021, he cut himself in the abdomen.

The administration of the institution regarded this fact as “disobedience to the lawful requirements of the employees of the correctional institution.” In this connection, at present, Yelshibaev faces an additional term under Art. 428 of the Criminal Code on the initiative of the administration of the institution. The court, on this matter, is expected at the end of April 2022.

 

LETTER OF SOLIDARITY

To the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Mr. K-Zh.K. Tokaev

Dear Mr. President,

I (we) are (we) very concerned about the situation with the serving of a criminal sentence by prisoner Yerzhan Yelshibaev.

Yerzhan Yelshibaev lived in Zhanaozen, a city in western Kazakhstan, located in the center of Kazakhstan’s oil-rich region. At the same time, the unemployment rate in Zhanaozen remains one of the highest in the country.

In the wake of the general dissatisfaction of Zhanaozen residents with this situation, Yerzhan acted as one of the initiators of rallies demanding to create jobs for the unemployed and increase wages for workers. At the rallies, Yerzhan criticized President Nazarbayev, accusing him of corruption and inefficient management of the state budget.

In fact, this became the reason for the criminal prosecution against him. However, in fact, Yelshibaev was charged with “inflicting bodily harm” during a domestic fight two years ago in 2017, during which, according to the investigation, the activist allegedly injured an unknown person. On October 17, 2019, he was sentenced to five years in prison under the article “Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm out of hooligan motives” (“clause 7, part 2, article 106 of the Criminal Code)

Human rights activists and Yelshibaev himself consider the charges brought against him to be persecution for his public activities and civic activism. On November 25, 2019, the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict, although the persons involved in the incident stated that they had no claims against Yelshibaev.

At the same time, Yelshibaev’s state of health as a result of unlawful actions of the administration of the institution where he is serving his sentence is of great concern.

The persecution of Yelshibaev continued in places of deprivation of liberty, in the person of employees of the Institution ZK-169/5, who provoked Yerzhan to illegal acts and tried to drive Yerzhan to suicide.

Yelshibaev repeatedly complained about pressure from the staff of the institution. In August 2020, he sewed his mouth shut as a protest against the misconduct of the prison administration. And in July 2021, he cut himself in the abdomen.

On March 3, 2021, a video appeared on the network in which Yelshibaev stated that he was ready to take extreme measures of protest in prison. In the video, Yelshibaev says that from the moment he entered this prison, he was repeatedly subjected to pressure from one of the employees of this colony. After complaints from prisoners, this employee was temporarily transferred to another job, but in February 2021 he was returned back and the facts of pressure continued, Yelshibaev said. Yelshibaev ended his video message with the words: “I will lay hands on myself. If I don’t survive after that, I ask you to file a case against this employee.

The administration of the institution regarded this fact as “disobedience to the lawful requirements of the employees of the correctional institution.” In this connection, at present, Yelshibaev faces an additional term under Art. 428 of the Criminal Code on the initiative of the administration of the institution. The court, on this matter, is expected at the end of April 2022.

May 3-12, 2021 in Geneva at the 90th session of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, where it was recognized that Kazakhstan violated a number of international human rights law by detaining and imprisoning the Zhanaozen activist Yelshibaev and called on the Kazakh authorities to immediately release.

The European Parliament called for the immediate release and rehabilitation of Yelshibaev, like dozens of other political prisoners, in its resolution on the situation with human rights in Kazakhstan.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called Yelshibayev’s detention and imprisonment a violation.

Yelshibayev’s accusation proceeds from the fact that he spoke out with public criticism of the authorities, participated in peaceful public protests in support of the unemployed.

However, the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan does not prohibit public criticism of the authorities and participation in peaceful public protests, if they do not contain unconstitutional appeals.

In this regard, I (we) believe that the Kazakh authorities should put an end to repressions against their political opponents and other dissidents in the country. I (we) demand that Yerzhan Yelshibaev be immediately released and that the persecution by the administration of the ZK-169/5 facility be stopped.

I urge (please) you:

Ensure the immediate release of Yerzhan Yelshibaev, since he did not commit any criminal offense, he acted peacefully and made statements that did not contradict the law.

Sincerely,