14 december 2017

Central Asia news

Human rights defender escapes police and flees Kazakhstan

07.08.2017 09:08 msk

Fergana


Ramazan Yesergepov
“Ramazan Yesergepov is fine; he is under the protection of Reporters Without Borders. He left the country because he suspects that criminal proceedings would be framed up for a scuffle with law enforcement,” Rozlana Taukina, head of the Federation of Equal Journalists of Kazakhstan and Reporters Without Borders correspondent, reported on 4 August on her Facebook page.

According to some sources, he is in France now.

On 1 August, the police detained the chair of the “Journalists in Need” organisation, Ramazan Yesergepov, in Alma-Ata near the court building, where he was scheduled to attend hearings on his suit against the Kazakh authorities refusing to execute the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in his favour.

Yesergepov was detained among those who gathered near the Gandhi monument on 1 August and with the group went to the main post office to send letters to the heads of Western countries and international organisations asking them to pay attention to the case of the arrested editor of the opposition “Sayasi Kalam. Tribune” newspaper of Zhanbolat Mamay and help his release. A dozen of law abiding people walking without posters was regarded by the police as a violation of the law on peaceful assembly. Two participants of the “procession” were sentenced to administrative arrest for three and five days respectively.

The police officer tried to force Yesergepov into the car because he refused to sit down voluntarily and the police did not explain on what grounds they want to take him before the trial. Yesergepov felt bad during the brawl with the police, but he was still taken to the police station. They tried to formalise his detention but had to call an ambulance. The doctors diagnosed the hypertensive crisis of the detainee. The police allowed to take him to the hospital, where Yesergepov was treated and then released home.

But the next morning the house where Ramazan Yesergepov temporarily lived alone appeared to be empty. The first absence of the owner of the house was discovered by a police officer, who had guarded him and arrived at 7.30 in the morning. On 3 August, the son of Yesergepov said that he intends to turn to the law enforcement agencies with a statement on the disappearance of his father.

Earlier on 14 May, Yesergepov was travelling from Almaty to Astana by train and planned to meet with the Lithuanian ambassador and several other representatives of international organisations. During the upcoming meetings, Ramazan Yesergepov intended to give details on the case of the detained in February 2017 editor-in-chief of the opposition “Sayasi Kalam. Tribuna” newspaper Zhanbolat Mamay; as well as to file a complaint with the judicial authorities on the review of his case according to which he received the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in his favour.

The human rights defender was stabbed by an unknown person in the train and him in the stomach that day. Yesergepov was hospitalised with a serious condition in the hospital located near the Shu (Chu) railway station of the Djambul region. He underwent surgery after which he was transferred from the intensive care unit to a regular ward. Fortunately, vital organs had not been affected.

President of the Federation of Equal Journalists of Kazakhstan Rozlana Taukina and a member of the Journalists in Need Foundation told that she had been called by an investigator from Shu since her number was the last one Ramazan Yesergepov communicated to before the attack. However, having learned that he was talking to a journalist the investigator only reported that everything is all right with the victim.

‘No one was found yet. The conductor who discovered Ramazan also does not know who attacked him. All this time he was unconscious, but maybe today he will tell something,’ believes Rozlana Taukina.

Perhaps, the attack was a domestic crime or an act of hooliganism. But it is alarming that after Ramazan Yesergepov had been taken to the hospital the officers of the National Security Committee Kazakhstan (KNB) appeared, who forbade doctors to report any details about the health of the public figure.

Ramazan Yesergepov is a former editor of the independent “Alma-Ata Info” newspaper. In January 2009, he was detained by KNB officers, and in August of that year, he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment on charges of publishing state secrets in the “Who runs the country: the president or the KNB?” article. In this material, the scheme of raider attack on business by the KNB officers from the city of Taraz was disclosed, and internal correspondence between the officers of the special service was featured.

After his discharge, Yesergepov complained to the UN Human Rights Committee, which ruled that the journalist had been deprived of the right to a fair trial. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan still refuses to comply with the UN decision to review the case.

The police started criminal proceedings following the attack on the human rights activist.

Fergana News Agency