Daily Archives: June 30, 2012

Kazakhstan: Justice for Oil Workers! (LabourStart)

www.labourstartcampaigns.net

Kazakhstan: Justice for Oil Workers!

In partnership with the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, the Confederation of Labour of Russia, and supported by the International Trade Union Confederation

Over a period of several months, court trials related to the tragic events in Zhanaozen of 16 December 2011 have taken place. Many months of dispute between oil workers and the management of oil companies, with the connivance of the authorities, resulted in disorders, violence and the uncontrolled use of force by police, which caused the death of 17 and injuries to dozens of people. Not only oil workers were killed and injured, but also citizens of Kazakhstan who had no involvement with the labour conflict.

Dozens of people, whose involvement is contestable, were subsequently charged. Many of them were sentenced to different terms in prison. During the process, international observers, representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and OSCE, human rights defenders and journalists recorded numerous violations in the trial processes. Almost all defendants and some of witnesses stated that they were tortured in the course of the investigation, but the trials were not suspended. The trials were conducted in an environment of extreme tensions and close to a state of emergency measures in the region.

The international trade union movement demands that the sentences be reconsidered, that all cases of torture and provocation be thoroughly investigated, and that national legislation that envisages criminal responsibility for “calling for social strife” and that is used selectively to put pressure on trade unionists, human rights activists and public figures, be changed.

Go here to sign a petition to the Kazakhstan authorities.

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What Passes for Good News in Russia These Days

http://en.ria.ru/society/20120628/174290332.html

The Supreme Court in the republic of Karelia overturned on Thursday a lower court’s order to put a critic of the Russian Orthodox Church into a psychiatric hospital.

But the man, rights activist Maxim Yefimov, remains on a wanted list on charges of inciting hatred toward the church by means of an internet article.

Yefimov, head of Youth Human Rights Group Karelia, published online in December an article titled Karelia Tired of Priests, slamming the church over its alleged interest toward real estate in the northern republic.

This earned him a criminal case for hatemongering, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Investigators requested a psychiatric examination of Yefimov, which ended with experts asking in May to place him into stationary care for a more extensive study of his “explicit deviations.”

Yefimov went on the run, while his lawyers appealed the court order, citing numerous rulings by prominent Russian psychiatrists, all of whom said the case does not mandate his placement in an asylum.

The Karelian Supreme Court eventually ordered a lower court to revise the request to confine Yefimov to a psychiatric hospital for a check. No date for a new hearing was set on Thursday.

Russian legislation on extremism and hate crimes is notoriously vague and criticized by many opposition and civil society activists, who accuse the authorities of abusing it for political persecution.

Punitive psychiatry was widespread in the Soviet Union and dissidents were often held and drugged for months for criticizing the government. It went largely defunct in post-Soviet Russia, though an investigation by The Moscow Times in 2011 produced a dozen separate cases across the nation where critics of authorities were allegedly put into asylums as a form of pressure.

In a separate case in Moscow, opposition activist Oleg Arkhipenkov, who is being held in custody over an anti-Putin rally last month, has been forced to take drugs during “psychiatric treatment” in detention, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Prison officials did not comment on the allegations as of Thursday afternoon.

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Petersburg Police Arrest Michael Jackson Fan for Holding “Illegal Rally”

Police Arrest Jackson Fan for Holding Rally
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
June 27, 2012

The police dispersed Michael Jackson fans near the U.S. consulate and arrested one for holding “an unsanctioned rally” in St. Petersburg on Monday.

The remaining 20 to 30 fans, who were carrying a tape recorder playing Jackson songs and a sign reading “We remember, we grieve,” were told to disperse.

The shrine of photos and flowers that they assembled outside the consulate was dismantled.

A report on local television channel 100TV shows a young man identified by his first name, Andrei, being told by a police officer that he has violated a local law by treading on the grass.

But after Andrei, wearing a Jackson-style white hat, was taken to a police precinct, he was charged with violating the rules on holding a public assembly.

“I don’t recall that people can be prosecuted for walking on the grass,” a police spokesman said Tuesday.

“If you trampled on the grass — especially if there were flowers planted there — that’s a different matter. [But the detention] was for organizing a rally; there were posters and sound-amplifying equipment.”

Fans who came to the site Monday denied that they were an organized group, BaltInfo reported.

Local fans have come to the U.S. consulate every year to pay homage to their idol since Jackson died on June 25, 2009.

According to amendments to the law “On Assemblies, Rallies, Demonstrations, Marches and Pickets” that came into force on June 9, Andrei faces a 10,000- to 30,000-ruble fine ($300 to $910) or 50 hours of community service.

The incident involving the Michael Jackson fans was the latest in a series of recent non-political arrests and dispersals of people who took to the streets of St. Petersburg for various reasons.

On June 10, about ten young people were detained and charged with violating the rules of holding a public assembly for participating in a pillow-fighting flash mob on the Field of Mars.

This month also saw several young people arrested near the Mariinsky Palace, the seat of the Legislative Assembly on St. Isaac’s Square, for attempting to draw on the asphalt with colored chalk.

Some media have attributed the recent unwarranted arrests and dispersals to the new law. It was passed in the aftermath of the May 6 March of Millions in Moscow, which ended in violent clashes after the police blocked the path of participants of the authorized demonstration and then broke up the rally altogether.

But non-political arrests had been seen in the city many times before the law introducing stiff fines was adopted early this month.

One of the most notorious episodes was the April 2010 bubble-blowing flash mob near Gorkovskaya metro station, which was first attacked by extreme nationalists, who threw a flare at and beat several participants, having mistaken them for gay rights protesters.

The police then dispersed participants, who were mostly teenagers, arresting about 30. They ended up in police precincts and were released after about five hours and charged with walking on the grass.

Some attribute the tightening of the authorities’ reaction to any unsanctioned outdoor events to the Kremlin’s fear of events such as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004-2005, when massive protests against electoral fraud led to new presidential elections and the loss of the candidate — Viktor Yanukovych — in whose favor the first election results had been rigged.

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