A call to show solidarity with workers and trade union activists of Kazakhstan!

On October 17, Yerzhan Yelshibaev, the leader of the unemployed movement of Zhanaozen and the Mangystau region, was sentenced to five years in a fabricated case and arrested in March of this year in a fabricated case about an attack on a passerby, which happened several years ago. During the trial, the victim and witnesses did not recognize him as an attacker and refused claims, however, the judge decided to send the famous public figure to jail.

This verdict provoked a storm of indignation of a large support group of activists and oil workers who clashed with police and riot police right in the city court building. As a result, several dozen people were detained, but subsequently released. All representatives of trade unions and social movements consider the condemnation of Yerzhan Yelshibaev to be political violence designed to intimidate local residents and oil workers.

A day earlier, the Al-Farabi district court of the city of Shymkent decided to send Yerzhan Baltabay, the former head of the Decent Work Labor local union, to a pre-trial detention center. They told him that he refused to pay the fine earlier, to which he was sentenced instead of a seven-year sentence as a result of a request for clemency signed by President Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev.

Yerzhan Baltabay himself considers himself innocent and accuses the KNB of fabricating a criminal case with the aim of raiding the union. He intends to justify himself through an appeal and prove that the authorities created a parallel union with the same name, which is not even the legal successor in order to completely destroy the independent association in the region and at the Shymkent oil refinery.

On October 16, more than two hundred workers of the Kezby service company organized a rally near the walls of the Akimat of Zhanaozen demanding an end to the persecution of leaders and activists of the independent trade union by the employer and his hired gangs. The fact is that in relation to the head of the trade union, Azmat Zhaparov, constantly unknown people promise to kill, and the bosses, under the threat of dismissal, are forcing ordinary members to leave the association.

Union activists intend to conclude a collective agreement and improve working conditions, but the employer does not want to endure an independent union and is making every effort to eliminate it. There is also the danger of fabricating a criminal case against the leaders of the association. All previous demands on the authorities, including on President Tokaev, remained ignored and further escalation of the situation was not ruled out.

Pressure was exerted on the part of special services, the prosecutor’s office and the akimat and on the participants in the strike at a service company with the participation of Chinese capital, Vostok Oil and Service, which suspended all drilling operations on the Kenkiyak and Zhanazhol fields in the Aktobe region on October 11. Eight drilling crews demanded a 50% increase in salaries, but the Director General, in his demand for the regional prosecutor, demanded that the participants in the strike be held criminally liable, attaching lists of activists and leaders to his statement.

Only attracting widespread attention to the strike prevented reprisals and layoffs. On October 16, the employer was forced to make concessions and sign with the yellow trade union, which always opposed the strikers, an agreement on raising wages from 10 to 50%. Despite the satisfaction of the demands of the drillers, there remains the danger of reprisals against activists and organizers of the strike, which may be held criminally liable under the article “for calls and participation in an illegal strike”.

It should be understood that the authorities and transnational corporations are frightened by a new round of the labor movement, when one of the main slogans was the demand for the equation of wages of Kazakh workers and foreign workers for equal work. This demand runs red thread through all strikes in the extractive sector. And the Nazarbayev regime intends to stop the mass protests through repression.

We urge the communist, leftist and trade union organizations to express solidarity and hold rallies at diplomatic missions or send letters of protest addressed to President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. Only a broad international campaign can lead to the release of the arrested comrades Yerzhan Yelshibaev and Yerzhan Baltabay and to an end to the persecution of workers’ activists!

Hands off workers and trade union activists of Kazakhstan!

Central Committee of the Kazakhstan Workers Union “Zhanartu”
Political Council of the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan

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