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Kazakh activists remember the path from protest to bloodshed

Almaty – Mass protests in Kazakhstan began peacefully on the New Year’s weekend, with marches blaming fuel prices for sharp rises. They spread rapidly from the western part of Central Asian countries to the more populous regions, eventually reaching the largest city, Almaty.

But something changed during the week.

A group of armed men appeared in Almaty, with some riding in cars without license plates or covered faces. Peaceful protesters say these men began to urge them to attack government buildings and promised to give them guns.

Immediately a clash with police broke out and Almaty was confused by the night of January 5. Like cars and buses, the city hall was on fire. The store was looted. Attempts were made to attack the presidential residence. Gunshots were heard on the streets, the internet was cut off, and even the airport was temporarily confiscated.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev has blamed the anxieties of “terrorists” who have received foreign training and support.

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However, almost two weeks after the incident that led to dozens of deaths and the arrest of about 16,000, the government has provided no evidence to support the allegations of external involvement.

It is unclear whether these more violent actors were individuals who used the mayhem to plunder and destroy stores, or were part of an organized group with greater political motives.

However, protesters say their rally was somehow weakened, leading to a crackdown by security forces. Tokaev said authorities did not use force in peaceful demonstrations.

Protests began over rising fuel prices, but the scope and agenda of the demonstrations expanded rapidly. Frustration with worsening living conditions and inequality under an authoritarian government that has been in power for over 30 years, with a large crowd gathering in major cities and an energy-rich country of 19 million people. Has been resolved.

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Many resigned in 2019 in support of his carefully selected successor, Tokaev, but occurred under Nursultan Nazarbayev, a longtime leader who maintains behind-the-scenes influence. The slogan “Shalket!” — “The old man goes!” — Was chanted at the rally.

“Most of the people are tired because they don’t feel that the state is providing social security, so they have come to the heart to express their attitude towards the authorities,” said human rights activists. Stated. Galim Ageleuoff, President of the Liberty Foundation.

Tokaev initially announced a 180-day cap on fuel prices and sought to calm the crowd by dismissing Nazarbayev as head of the National Security Council.

However, protests continued and violence escalated during a peaceful rally in Almaty.

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A protester named Bezshan said on January 5 that armed men approached young people in the crowd and asked them to help them attack the police station. “They said they would hand out weapons,” he told The Associated Press, recalling the incident more than a week later. AP has chosen not to publish the full names of the protesters interviewed with care for their safety.

Another protester, Beken, said he also saw a “provocateur” at the rally that day, urging police to attack. No weapons needed. I attended a peaceful rally, “he said.

On January 6, security forces fired and killed dozens of protesters. At least 12 officers were also reported to have been killed. The next day, Tokaev announced that he had ordered security forces to shoot and kill violent anxieties, saying, “We will act with the utmost rigor regarding offenders.”

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Almaty police spokeswoman Saltynat Azirbek called the January 5 attack on the police station an “appropriate battle.”

The attacker “did not make a request,” she told reporters. “They deliberately destroyed and killed.”

She also claimed that police were unarmed when working in an unauthorized demonstration in Almaty, but she did not reveal whether it meant a January 6 rally.

In bloodshed, Tokaev also summoned troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of the six former Soviet nations led by Russia, which helped restore order.

Some have seen the accusations of foreign agitators as an excuse, primarily to bring in Russian troops.

“We need a serious reason to invite Russian troops … it’s not an internal conflict with the people,” political analyst Dimash Alzaev said in an interview. .. “

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A protester named Muller told AP that authorities “haven’t shown any terrorists so far,” and only announced the arrest of Vikram Ruzakhunov, a famous jazz pianist from nearby Kyrgyzstan. Said.

The musician appeared on television in Kazakhstan after being arrested for a major bruise on his face, stating on the air that he had been promised money to fly and participate in the protest.

Kyrgyz officials protested Rusaknov’s arrest and demanded that Kazakhstan release him. He was released shortly thereafter, and when he returned to Kyrgyzstan, he said his remarks on Kazakhstan television were false. He was visiting a friend of Almaty and was wiped out when he was about to leave the city.

Ruzaf Nunov told the Kyrgyz broadcaster that while in prison, his selmate told him that the fastest way to be released was to confess a false story, and that’s what he did.

Analyst Alzanov said Kazakhstan’s broadcasters amplified the government’s message by repeatedly broadcasting videos of the turmoil.

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“The government was interested in communicating them to a wide audience as they continued to broadcast the footage,” he added, adding that the declared state of emergency provided an excuse to strongly suppress the demonstrations. ..

A protester named Dorlet told AP that he believed that “security forces deliberately portrayed the protesters as a kind of fringe group in preparation for the riots.”

Beken, a protester who said he saw what he called a “provocateur,” criticized security forces for “shooting their people.” He said at a rally on January 6th he attended, he featured protesters walking towards the army with a white flag.

“It’s immeasurable. I don’t understand. Why is this possible?” He said.

Copyright 2022 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Kazakh activists remember the path from protest to bloodshed

Source link Kazakh activists remember the path from protest to bloodshed

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