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Kazakhstan: Defamation of human rights defenders Mr Galym Ageleuov and Mr Murat Tungishbayev
On 13 November 2012, an article containing misleading and defamatory statements about human rights defenders Mr Galym Ageleuov and Mr Murat Tungishbayev was published in the official daily Kazakh newspaper Kazakhstanskaya Pravda.
Both human rights defenders had worked on the events in Zhanaozen on 16 December 2011, when violent police repression of a demonstration by oil workers resulted in the deaths of 14 people and left 64 people wounded. Galym Ageleuov is Director of the human rights organisation Liberty. Murat Tungishbayev is a popular blogger who wrote about human rights issues involved in the incident.
On 13 November, Kazakhstanskaya Pravda published an article on the events in Zhanaozen that contained misleading information about the work of the two human rights defenders, who are based in the Zhanaozen area. According to the authors of the article, the two human rights defenders called upon “oil workers to continue illegal activities, not to conduct any negotiations and never to go sit around the table with the employer”.
The human rights organisation Liberty was closely following the court proceedings on the events in Zhanaozen. Galym Ageleuov met with victims, organised and participated in a press conference on the case and provided information on the court proceedings using social media. Murat Tungishbayev published materials related to the human rights dimension of the events.
The recent article in Kazakhstanskaya Pravda also tried to link the work of Galym Ageleuov and Murat Tungishbayev to the unregistered oppositional party “Alga”, accusing the two defenders of being “paid servants” of Vladimir Kozlov, the party's leader, and Muhtar Ablyazov, who was referred to as the “sponsor” of the party. However, the two human rights defenders deny having been involved in any political activities on behalf of this political party. The publication of this article comes after recent broadcasts by the state TV channels in Kazakhstan which tried to link both defenders to the events in Zhanaozen. The broadcasts contained a footage of Galym Ageleuov filming a speech at a rally in Zhanaozen, thus suggesting a link between his work as human rights defender and the events which ended up in the violent suppression of the striking workers.
In June this year, Galym Ageleuov had already been sentenced to fifteen days' administrative detention for having spoken about the Zhanaozen events in a public address at a gathering of pro-democracy and human rights activists. Front Line Defenders issued an appeal on his behalf on 11 June 2012.