Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Kazakhstan: Mass protests against the regime

By Clare Doyle

Hundreds and thousands of people – young and old – set out to join countrywide protests on May 21 against Kazakhstan’s vicious Nazarbayev regime.

They were met with an enormous police operation to prevent them reaching the squares for the demonstrations. But, “the people have awoken!” as one campaigner put it. This movement is unlikely to subside any time soon.

It erupted on the issue of land sales which is a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan. Land is seen as the primary source of people’s wellbeing. It has been held in common over the centuries and is still in state hands.

Discontent has been fuelled by a huge drop in the country’s income from oil and uranium. The population is made to pay, while Nazarbayev’s clique is mired in corruption. Recent revelations in the Daily Mail have confirmed that Prince Andrew is up to his eyes in dirty deals! Anger against the regime as a whole is boiling over.

In the days before the planned mass protests, dozens of government critics, human rights activists and media personnel were rounded up and given administrative detention for ten days to two weeks. In some cities, tanks and ‘special forces’ were put on the streets.

The videos and reports that have come out of Kazakhstan show determination to confront the regime and the police. Fear is dissolving as the struggle intensifies to end the 27-year rule of the super-rich dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The urgent need now is for representatives agreed by the demonstrators to draw up plans for new protests and put forward slogans that can build a mass force.

Campaign Kazakhstan has suggested a programme for such a task, and welcomes comments that can assist the workers and young people involved in this crucial fight.

Demands of the movement need to include:

-No to any privatisation of land!
-Free imprisoned activists and drop all charges!
-Down with the corrupt and dictatorial Nazarbayev regime!
-Build committees of struggle!
-Fight for total freedom of speech, of assembly and organisation (trade unions and political parties)!
-New elections at every level to an assembly that can decide on how the country should be run
-End mass unemployment and poverty with planning of all resources and industry in public hands and under the control of democratically elected committees.
-We call for support from working people in neighbouring countries and world-wide.