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Kazakhstan: Watchdog Report Challenges Astana’s Version of Zhanaozen Violence

A recent Human Rights Watch report claims the tactics implemented by government officials was key in igniting the Zhanaozen violence. (Photo: Joanna Lillis)

A report prepared by the global watchdog group Human Rights Watch suggests hardline tactics employed by officials in Kazakhstan prepared the ground for confrontation in the western city of Zhanaozen in late 2011. The finding contradicts official claims that outside actors and political malcontents were responsible for causing the deadly rioting.

The report, titled Striking Oil, Striking Workers, was released September 10. Fifteen civilians died in Zhanaozen-related violence, according to official figures.

“The oil workers have faced serious violations of their rights by both their employers and the government of Kazakhstan,” said Mihra Rittmann, HRW’s Central Asia researcher who penned the report. “It’s shocking that workers should have to endure mass firings and being thrown in prison in retaliation for participating in a peaceful strike.”

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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan: Watchdog Report Challenges Astana’s Version of Zhanaozen Violence

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