7 January 2022
The Socialist International condemns the deadly violence used during the course of recent anti-government protests in Kazakhstan. Though the protests are reported to have started peacefully, the situation significantly deteriorated, leading to the deeply regrettable loss of multiple lives among both protesters and police.
The orders given to troops by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to use lethal force against protesters without warning is a dangerous and illegal move that seeks to deny people the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression and is in clear violation of the principles of necessity and proportionality. Violence must end on all sides, but the government and its security forces have a clear legal responsibility to avoid the use of deadly force and must never indiscriminately target protesters.
This troubling situation is made more complex by the lack of verifiable information emerging from Kazakhstan, exacerbated by severe disruption to communications networks in the country. These disturbances have made it impossible to establish contact with the leadership of the Nationwide Social Democratic Party (OSDP), SI member party in Kazakhstan, since the outbreak of the protests. At this difficult time the full solidarity of the SI is with the OSDP and its members, and all those struggling for human rights and democratic values in Kazakhstan.
For too many years Kazakhstan has been in the grip of an authoritarian government that has not tolerated any dissent and persecuted opposition parties. The protests, triggered by a doubling in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), reveal the deep underlying and legitimate grievances from Kazakh citizens against a regime that has overseen drastic economic and social decline. The government of Kazakhstan must turn its attention to addressing the concerns of its population, allowing democratic opposition, tackling corruption and offering credible solutions to the severe economic difficulties faced by many Kazakhs.