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Jailed Kazakh Activist's Relatives Concerned For His Life

Aron Atabek in July 2006

Aron Atabek in July 2006

Relatives of a jailed Kazakh activist say they are concerned about his safety in labor camp, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Aron Atabek was convicted in 2007 of organizing mass disorder that ended with the death of a police officer and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Atabek's wife, Zhaina Aidarkhan, told RFE/RL that she has reliable information that her husband was placed in the prison infirmary and that he refuses to eat.

His son, Askar, says it is not possible to find out if Atabek is on a hunger strike or has been deprived of food.

He told RFE/RL the authorities might have started oppressive measures against his father after his poem titled "Nazarbaevness And Revolution" started circulating on the Internet.

He also said he has heard that at least 140 inmates were beaten by guards in the camp after Atabek's poem was leaked to the Internet.

These beatings, apparently, made the inmates angry with Atabek.

The Justice Ministry denied the beatings took place.

Atabek is one of Kazakhstan's most prominent veteran dissidents.

His supporters consider his case politically motivated.