Striking workers slaughtered in Kazakhstan

Police have opened fire on striking oil workers in Kazakhstan. Independent reports claim that up to seventy people have been killed, and five hundred injured.

Submitted by working class … on December 16, 2011

At a state run oil refinery in Kazakhstan, at least ten workers have been killed by police in violent clashes over wages, conditions, and the right to form independent political parties. Since the dispute has started the oil company has sacked over 1000 people for taking part.

Oil workers have been protesting since the spring, and have been camping out in a local town square as part of an on-going campaign.

Government officials attempted to remove demonstrators from the town square in order to host a party. However, when they refused to leave, the police opened fire on the crowd. Officials claim that ten people were killed, but journalists at the scene claim to have seen scores of people gunned down. A Russian language blog page has suggested that as many as seventy have been killed, and over 500 people have been injured.

It has been reported that the headquarters of the state run oil company and a local government building have been burnt down, and several police cars have been burnt out. Army armoured vehicles and helicopters are patrolling the city, there is a media blackout, and all social networking sites have been blocked.

“Askhat Daulbayev, Kazakhstan’s prosecutor general, said in televised remarks Friday that “having rudely violated the public order, the protesters attacked the policemen, toppled the New Year’s tree, destroyed the yurts placed there because of the holiday, as well as the stage and set a police bus on fire.” The Echo of Moscow radio station reported Friday evening that martial law was imposed and armoured personnel carriers were patrolling the town. Vesti, a Russian television channel, showed video of the smouldering remains of burned cars on the streets.”
The dispute has impacted on oil production and distribution, but has not yet spread to other areas of the oil field.

As well as increases in wages, and safer working conditions, the workers are demanding the release of their lawyer who is currently in jail, and they are demanding the nationalisation of the oil industry.

The government has attempted to turn public opinion against the workers. Ainash Tlekkablov, an advisor to the mayor stated that, “The moment the children came out of the square holding signs and flags, a beastly crowd with sticks and sawed-off pipes set upon them”. The government have not been able to provide any evidence to back up this allegation.

Earlier this year, Sting cancelled a concert in Kazakhstan in solidarity with the striking oil workers.

Solidarity comrades!



12 years 7 months ago

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Submitted by antoniamautempo on December 18, 2011

Demonstrate – Support oil workers and their communities in Kazakhstan – Protest at police killings

Kazakh-British Chamber of Commerce
62 South Audley Street

21st December 2011
12 noon

On Friday 17 December, the security forces violently attacked oil workers demanding better living standards in Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan. Ten people were shot dead, more than 70 wounded, and 70 arrested, according to the government. Opposition activists and Russian media say that the number of victims could be much higher.

In spite of the massacre, the protests continued on 18 November. There were further clashes in nearby Aktau and Shetpe, and a 20-day state of emergency has been declared.

The Zhanaozen protests are part of a campaign for better pay and conditions by workers in the western Kazakhstan oilfield that started in May, grew in a strike of about 16,000 people in June, and continued through the year. (The Kazakh elite has become rich, thanks to oil – but in Mangistau, the largest oil-producing province, one third of the population are below the poverty line.)

Just like anti-capitalist protesters in Wall Street, the City of London and elsewhere, the Kazakh oil field workers established a “tent city”, in Zhanaozen’s main square, in June. When police tried to break it up in July, 60 of them covered themselves with petrol and threatened to set themselves on fire. Friday’s massacre took place in the same square.

Kazakh oil workers’ communities – we are with you!

Kazakhstan, oil and the City:

-- The companies where most of the protesting oil workers work are partly owned by Kazmunaigaz Exploration and Production, which is listed on the London stock exchange and has often raised loans from London-based institutions;
-- The UK is the third largest direct investor in Kazakhstan (after the USA and China);
-- Tony Blair, the former prime minister, is being paid millions of pounds to lobby in the Kazakh government’s interests. Many other British businessmen and politicians help, too. Richard Evans, the former chairman of British Aerospace, is chairman of Samruk-Kazyna, a state-owned holding company that controls a big chunk of the Kazakh economy.
-- The oil produced in Kazakhstan is traded in the offices of big oil trading companies and international oil companies in their London offices.

Most recent news:


12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by jonthom on June 8, 2012

Kazakh riot trials spread punishment

The courts in Mangistau region of Kazakhstan have concluded the trials of 56 people held accountable for the violent events that took place surrounding a labor dispute in Zhanaozen and Shetpe that took place on December 16-17, 2011.

The court rulings sent a strong message that all sides that contributed to the escalation of the oil workers' labor dispute into violent riots and subsequent police shooting are equally responsible. Since March, several parallel trials have been held against protestors, police officers, oil company managers and local government officials.

The longest prison term - eight years - was received by an oil company executive, followed by seven-year prison sentences handed down to two other oil company managers, one police officer and two civilians convicted for organizing the riots. The court also ordered that the property of six convicted police officers and three oil company executives be confiscated.

Proceedings against local officials have not been completed yet, but prosecutors have requested 13 years imprisonment for the former mayor of Zhanaozen for embezzling public funds. The trials of opposition leaders, charged with inciting rioting are expected to start this month.

Among the accused are the Alga party leader Vladimir Kozlov, politician Serik Sapargali, theater director Bolat Atabaev, and journalist Zhanbolat Mamay.

On June 4, the largest trial of 37 Zhanaozen residents charged with organizing and participating in the riots last December 16 ended with disorder in the courtroom in Aktau, the administrative center of Mangistau region in western Kazakhstan.

Judge Aralbay Nagashybayev was unable to finish reading out the sentences as indignant relatives and friends of the defendants began shouting and throwing objects at him. Meanwhile, the defendants attempted to break the glass barriers that separated them from the audience, triggering an intervention by the security guards.

David in Atlanta

12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by David in Atlanta on June 9, 2012

The longest sentences to date have been given to oil company management and police officers? I provisionally and partially take back what I've said about Kazakhstan


12 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by jonthom on June 9, 2012

that did stick out to me too; curious to know how accurate the report is, and whether there's a context missing.