On 8 September 2011, human rights defender and labour rights leader, Ms Natalya Azhigalieva, was arbitrarily arrested in Zhanaozen and subsequently sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention following a short trial which was held in camera on that same day.
Natalya Azhigalieva is one of the leaders of the strike committee set up by workers of the oil company Ozenmunaigaz. In May 2011, oil industry workers throughout Kazakhstan began a strike which is currently ongoing, in response to a dispute which erupted in January 2011 regarding demands for an increase in salaries and an improvement in work conditions. To date, some 1200 oil industry workers have been dismissed for their participation in the strike, and a number of other human rights defenders and their families have been subjected to acts of intimidation, harassment, and violence.
According to the information received from Kazakh NGO 'Kadyr Kassiet' (Dignity), on 8 September 2011 at 1.30 pm approximately, as Natalya Azhigalieva was making her way to her relatives' home in Zhanaozen, she noticed that she was being followed by a black car.