Kazakhstan: Physical attack against Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov, chairman of the Journalists in Trouble Public Foundation

22/05/2017
Urgent Appeal

KAZ 002 / 0517 / OBS 056
Physical attack
Kazakhstan
May 19, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kazakhstan.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the physical attack against Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov, chairman of the Journalists in Trouble Public Foundation, member of the public committee for the defence of the arrested journalist and public figure Zhanbolat Mamai and former editor of the Alma-Ata Info newspaper.

According to the information received, on May 14, 2017, Mr. Yesergepov was assaulted by two unidentified persons who stabbed him three times for no apparent reason in the vestibule of a train carriage in which he was traveling from Almaty to Astana. Mr. Yesergepov was found bleeding and weakened by a conductor who rang the alarm, which allowed him to be removed from the train at the Shu station, in the Jambyl region, and taken to a local hospital where he underwent surgery and where he is currently being treated.

When the physical attack took place, Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov was traveling to Astana in order to meet with representatives of European diplomatic missions regarding the case of Mr. Zhanbolat Mamai, editor and publisher of the Sayasi Kalam Tribuna newspaper, who was arrested on February 10, 2017, on trumped-up charges of money laundering, as well as about the lack of implementation of a decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in his own case.

In 2009, Mr. Yesergepov was sentenced to three years in prison for publishing critical materials about alleged illegal activities of the heads of the Zhambyl regional administration of the National Security Committee. Following his release from prison in 2012, Mr. Yesergepov has fought to have his sentence overturned and in 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that his right to a fair trial had been violated during the judicial process in which he had been convicted. Mr. Yesergepov had been advocating for the decision to be enforced, including through a lawsuit which he filed on May 12, 2017.

Following the physical attack against Mr. Yesergepov, members of a special commission of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would have visited him at the hospital. The Observatory is however concerned by the fact that the investigators seem to be trying to link this assault to a conflict with another passenger at the Almaty railway station, which has been denied by Mr. Yesergepov and a family member who was at the station with him before he boarded the train.

The Observatory condemns the physical attack against Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov, which seems to be linked with his legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Kazakh authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, transparent and impartial investigation.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Kazakhstan asking them to:

i. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the attack against Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ramazan Yesergepov, as well as all human rights defenders in Kazakhstan;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1, 5, 6 and 12.2;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kazakhstan.

Addresses:

• Mr. Nursultan NAZARBAEV, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Fax: + 7 3172 32 61 82, 007 / 3172 / 32 40 89
• Mr. Kalmukhanbet Kassymov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan. Email: Kense@mvd.kz
• Mr. Zhakyp Assanov, Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan. Fax: +7 7172 506 402
• Mr. Askar Shakirov, Human Rights Commissioner of Kazakhstan. Fax: +7 7172 74 05 48
• Ambassador Ms. Zhanar Aitzhanova, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva. Fax: +41 (0) 22 788 66 02. Email: mission@kazakhstan-geneva.ch
• Ambassador Mr. Almaz KHAMZAYEV, Embassy of Kazakhstan in Brussels. Email: brussels@mfa.kz.
• Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the OSCE in Vienna. Fax: +43 1 890 80 08 20. Email: kzosce@kazakhstan.at

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Kazakhstan in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, May 19, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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