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Kazakh Report: August 27, 2002


27 August 2002

INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN KAZAKHSTAN OPENS IN ASTANA
A three-day International seminar on human rights in Kazakhstan opened in Astana on August 27. It is organized by international experts on human rights, representatives of the OSCE and international human rights organizations, and the leadership of Kazakhstan's Bureau on Human Rights. The 27 August session focussed primarily on human rights in Kazakhstan's penitentiary system. The vice chairman of Kazakhstan's Bureau of Human Rights, Zhemis Turmaghambetova, said that greater attention should be paid to the situation in preliminary detention centers in Kazakhstan. She said citizens detained by police as suspects are frequently held in preliminary detention center for months or even years without lawyers, contacts with friends or relatives, which is a violation of the Kazakh Constitution and Criminal Procedural Code.

FORUM OF KAZAKHSTAN'S DEMOCRATIC FORCES DEMANDs IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ABLIYAZOV AND ZHAQIYANOV
Leaders of the Forum of Democratic Forces of Kazakhstan which unites several opposition political parties have addressed an open letter to the Kazakh government and President Nursultan Nazarbaev demanding the immediate release of two cofounders of the opposition movement Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice, Mukhtar Abliyazov (former Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy) and former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov.

Abliyazov was found guilty of abuse of his official position and financial irregularities while in office and sentenced by Kazakhstan's Supreme Court on July 18 to six years imprisonment. The Pavlodar City Court sentenced Zhaqiyanov to seven years imprisonment on similar charges on August 2.

Forum leaders say that the two verdicts were politically motivated. They also stressed in their letter that in the last several years President Nazarbaev managed to concentrate almost limitless power in his hands which in turn caused a worsening in press freedom and human rights in Kazkahstan.

KAZAKH CABINET SESSION FOCUSES ON ILLEGAL MIGRATION
A Kazakh Cabinet session on August 27 discussed a range of issues, including illegal migration. Ministers characterized as alarming the situation in the southern regions (Almaty, Qyzyl-Orda, South Kazakhstan and Zhambyl Oblasts), which attract illegal labor seekers from neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan who frequently violate Kazakh legislation on labor and taxation.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ISLAM IN CENTRAL ASIA OPENS
On August 27 a three-day international conference "Islam in Central Asia - History and the Present Days" opened in Almaty. Islamic clerics from Arab countries, Turkey, Central Asian states and the Caucasus and Volga regions of Russia argued that the roots of Islam in Central Asia, the region's cultural heritage and its connection with outer world should be re-researched and revitalized.

Discussing the September 11 bombings in New York and Washington, participants said that those who destroyed the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon, killing hundreds of innocent people, could not call themselves Muslims. The mufti of Kazakhstan's Muslims, Absattar Derbisaliev, was not present.

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