Accessibility links

Striking Kazakh Oil Worker Said To Commit Suicide

Some of the striking Kazakh oil workers who were dismissed gathered for a protest in Aktau on September 1.

Some of the striking Kazakh oil workers who were dismissed gathered for a protest in Aktau on September 1.

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- One of thousands of striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan is reported to have committed suicide, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Aiman Ongharbaeva, an employee of OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporation in the western town of Zhanaozen, told RFE/RL that electrician Abai Abenov, 30, hanged himself on October 3.

Ongharbaeva added that Abenov had been on strike since the walkout began more than four months ago, and said that many strikers were in a drastic situation as they had no means to support their families financially.

One of Abenov's colleagues, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that Abenov's decision to kill himself was most likely connected with the ongoing strike.

Abenov worked for the Ozenenergiyamunai Company, which is a part of OzenMunaiGaz.

Thousands of workers at the Qarazhanbasmunai and OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporations in Manghystau province have been on strike since May. They are demanding a wage increase, equal rights with foreign workers, and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region.

Some 410 workers have been fired since the strike began. Several others have been brought to trial on charges of organizing unsanctioned mass gatherings. Abenov was one of those fired.

A lawyer for the Qarazhanbasmunai oil company's labor unions, Natalya Sokolova, was found guilty in August of "igniting social hatred" and given a six-year jail term.

Ongharbaeva told RFE/RL that Abenov left a wife and three children.

Abenov's is the third death purportedly connected with the ongoing strike. Saule Qarabalaeva, 18, a daughter of Qudaibergen Qarabalaev, a leading activist for the striking oil workers, disappeared on August 21 and was found dead four days later.

A second activist, Zhaqsylyq Turbaev, was killed by unknown assailants the same month.

Read more in Kazakh here