Kazakhstan: at least five arrested ahead of planned protestEvent
- Initial Date
- May 17, 2023
- Event Description
A number of Kazakh activists who planned to hold protest rallies against the government’s plan to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese citizens coming to Kazakhstan have been jailed or fined ahead of the China-Central Asian summit in the ancient city of Xi'an.
Kazakh officials have said an agreement on visa-free visits for visiting Chinese citizens for up to 30 days will be signed during the summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and attended by the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on May 19, the second day of the meeting.
Ahead of bilateral meetings held between the countries and Beijing, a court in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, sentenced Bekzatqan Maqsutuly, the leader of the unregistered Atazhurt (Fatherland) party, to 15 days in jail.
Maqsutuly's lawyer, Shynquat Baizhanov, told RFE/RL on May 18 that his client was found guilty of violating regulations for holding public gatherings. The charge was related to a previous unsanctioned public event. On May 16, Maqsutuly announced online his party's plan to organize a rally against the agreement on visa-free travel for Chinese nationals entering Kazakhstan.
A court in the northwestern city of Aqtobe sentenced activist Akhmet Sarsenghaliev to four days in jail on the same charge.
Three other activists in Aqtobe -- Almira Quatova, Ainagul Tobetova, and Bauyrzhan Maratuly -- were also convicted of violating regulations for holding public gatherings and ordered to pay fines between $380 and $535. All four activists planned to organize a rally in Aqtobe on May 18 to protest via-free travel for Chinese citizens entering Kazakhstan.
Activists in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic’s northern city of Pavlodar said on Facebook that they had faced police pressure over their plan to organize a rally against the visa-free travel agreement in the city.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- 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 17 May 2023, Bekzatqan Maqsutuly, Akhmet Sarsenghaliev, Almira Quatova, Ainagul Tobetova, and Bauyrzhan Maratuly, pro-democracy defenders including two WHRDs, were arrested and fined for planning a protest against a foreign affairs matters by local courts in Almaty and Aqtobe, Kazakhstan.