International labour movement campaigns for oil workers in Kazakhstan


On 10 December, Human Rights Day, national and global union organizations together with the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia and web resource LabourStart launched a campaign for release of seven oil workers held in custody since 2012.

After the struggle of oil workers started in 2011 with the Kazakh oil company KazMunaiGas (formerly Kazakhoil) when a labour dispute due to inactiveness of authorities bordering with complicity escalated into bloody riots at the end of 2011 in Zhanaozen resulting in 17 dead and many wounded, a real crackdown on oil workers rose serious concerns of the international union and human rights protection organizations.

The trial orchestrated by the Kazakh authorities in March 2012 sentenced 37 people to imprisonment or other punishment. Seven of them still remain in custody. Time and again national and international observers called the attention of the country’s leadership to numerous abuses of both the defendants and witnesses who testified the facts of being tortured.

One of the witnesses, Alexander Bozhenko, 20, testified in court that he was tortured for several days and forced to bear evidence against oil workers in Zhanaozen. After he publicly renounced from his previous testimony claiming he gave it through torture, the young man was severely beaten by some unidentified individuals and later died. The authorities declared his death was not related to the trial however serious doubts were raised around that.

Seven people, Tanatar Kaliev, Shabdal Utkilov, Talgat Saktaganov, Naryn Dzharilgasinov, Kanat Zhusipbaev, Maksat Dosmagambetov and Roza Tuletaeva are those remaining in custody up to now.

To send your message of protest to the president of Kazakhstan and to prevent further crackdown on workers’ rights and freedoms in Kazakhstan support the LabourStart campaign on the link

"Trade union rights are human rights. IndustriALL continues the global struggle to ensure that every worker has the right to freely join a trade union, get the protection of a collective agreement, as well as a safe and healthy workplace," said Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary.