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UN Rights Chief Says Zhanaozen Damaged Kazakh Reputation

  • RFE/RL

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her visit to Astana on July 12

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her visit to Astana on July 12

The United Nations human rights chief says Kazakhstan's reputation is being damaged by the failure of authorities so far to carry out a thorough investigation of the violence in the western town of Zhanaozen.

Police shot dead at least 16 people in Zhanaozen in December following a months-long protest by oil workers who were fired after going on strike.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay, in a statement on July 12 after she visited Zhanaozen, said, "The facts revealed so far suggest that there was excessive use of force and abuse of power."

Pillay said the underlying causes of the Zhanozen events include corruption among local authorities, as well as restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly in Kazakhstan.

She said it remains unclear precisely what occured in Zhanaozen.

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