Kazakhstan: several pro-democracy defenders detained ahead of planned rallyEvent
- Initial Date
- Oct 25, 2022
- Event Description
Police in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, have detained opposition activists who planned to hold a rally to challenge next month's early presidential election.
Bibigul Imanghalieva, a member of the unregistered Algha, Qazaqstan (Kazakhstan, Forward) party, told RFE/RL by phone that she and several of her colleagues were detained for several hours early in the morning in different parts of the city before they could hold the demonstration, which was to fall on October 25, Republic Day, which commemorates Kazakhstan's declaration of state sovereignty in 1990.
According to Imanghalieva, leading activists, Aset Abishev, Aidar Syzdyqov, and Qanatkhan Amrenov, were among those detained. She added that she and other activists were released three hours later.
Imanghalieva says she and other members of the unregistered party had officially filed a request with the Almaty city administration last week asking for permission to hold a rally on October 25.
Other activists told RFE/RL that the chairwoman of an independent group of election observers, Arailym Nazarova, was also detained by police. Her mobile phone has been switched off since the morning of October 25.
In the capital, Astana, police cordoned off a square near Zhengis (Victory) Avenue where activists had planned to gather, not allowing anyone to enter the site. At least two activists were detained there.
Opposition activist Amangeldy Zhakhin said on Facebook on October 25 that police did not allow him to leave the village of Shortandy on October 25 as they tried to prevent his trip to Astana, the capital, where he planned to organize a rally to question the election, scheduled for November 20, at which incumbent President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev will face off against five relatively unknown candidates.
Activists in the cities of Aqsai, Pavlodar, and Oskemen also said they were blocked from travelling to Astana to take part in a rally.
Toqaev, who has tried to position himself as a reformer, called the early presidential election on September 1 while also proposing to change the presidential term to seven years from five years. Under the new system, future presidents will be barred from seeking more than one term.
Critics say Toqaev's initiatives have been mainly cosmetic and do not change the nature of the autocratic system in a country that has been plagued for years by rampant corruption and nepotism.
Toqaev's predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbaev, who had run the tightly controlled former Soviet republic with an iron fist for almost three decades, chose Toqaev as his successor when he stepped down in 2019.
Though he was no longer president, Nazarbaev retained sweeping powers as the head of the Security Council. He also enjoyed substantial powers by holding the title of “elbasy” or leader of the nation.
Many citizens, however, remained upset by the oppression felt during Nazarbaev's reign.
Those feelings came to a head in January when unprecedented anti-government nationwide protests started over a fuel price hike, and then exploded into countrywide deadly unrest over perceived corruption under the Nazarbaev regime and the cronyism that allowed his family and close friends to enrich themselves while ordinary citizens failed to share in the oil-rich Central Asian nation's wealth.
Toqaev subsequently stripped Nazarbaev of his Security Council role, taking it over himself. Since then, several of Nazarbaev’s relatives and allies have been pushed out of their positions or resigned. Some have been arrested on corruption charges.
In June, a Toqaev-initiated referendum removed Nazarbaev's name from the constitution and annulled his status as “elbasy.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Restrictions on Movement
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Pro-democracy defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 25 October 2022, a number of defenders from different pro-democracy groups including WHRDs Bibigul Imanghalieva and Arailym Nazarova, and Aset Abishev, Aidar Syzdyqov, and Qanatkhan Amrenov, were detained by the police ahead of a planned rally in Almaty, while others were prevented from leave their cities in Kazakhstan.