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Amnesty Calls For Release Of Jailed Kazakh Union Activist

  • RFE/RL

Labor union activist Nurbek Qushaqbaev in handcuffs in a court in Astana on April 7.

Amnesty International is calling on Kazakh authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release labor union activist Nurbek Qushaqbaev from prison and stop their "attack" on independent trade union movements.

Qushaqbaev was sentenced earlier this month to 2 1/2 years in prison on what the London-based group described in an April 11 statement as “trumped up, far-fetched” charges.

A court in Astana on April 7 found Qushaqbaev guilty of instigating an illegal strike by workers and sentenced him the same day.

Qushaqbaev pleaded not guilty.

Qushaqbaev’s conviction is “just one link in a long chain of events that will lead to the eventual destruction of the independent trade union movement in Kazakhstan,” Amnesty said.

Qushaqbaev, a member of the union at the Oil Construction Company (OCC) in the western Manghystau region, was arrested in January after hundreds of OCC workers struck for two weeks to protest the closure of a trade union alliance.

The strike was stopped after a local court declared it illegal.

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