WATCH: Kazakh rapper Takezhan
ALMATY -- Well-known Kazakh rapper Takezhan says he plans to perform a concert in the commercial capital Almaty in support of striking oil workers in the west of the country, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
Takezhan told RFE/RL he wants to highlight the plight of the workers, thousands of whom have been on strike for better pay and conditions since May.
"I just saw that the problem is being hushed up and the government does not
want the people of the country to know about social and economic problems in
western Kazakhstan. [The government] doesn't want that," Takezhan said.
Takezhan said state media is ignoring the issue and that the planned concert is "away to attract attention" to the situation in western Kazakhstan.
He said he was partly inspired by British pop singer Sting's decision to cancel a July 4 concert in Astana in a gesture of support for the strikers.
Takezhan said he mainly sings about social problems and sport and that this is his first musical foray into the world of politics.
No date has been set for the concert.
Thousands of oil workers in western Kazakhstan have been on strike since May, demanding the same wages and benefits as foreign, mostly Chinese, workers at the same site and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions.
Hundreds of the striking workers have been fired for their action and Natalya Sokolova, a lawyer for independent trade unions who was helping the striking workers, was jailed for six years earlier this month for "igniting social hatred."