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Kazakh Activists On Hunger Strike After May Day Gathering

The hunger striking activists on in Almaty on May 2
The hunger striking activists on in Almaty on May 2
Four Kazakh opposition activists are on hunger strike to protest police action against their May Day gathering, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The action is being led by opposition figure Zhasaral Kuanyshalin and three others.

On May 2, a court in Almaty jailed opposition figure Yermek Narymbaev for 15 days in jail and fined Kuanyshalin the equivalent of $100 for organizing an unsanctioned public gathering.

The May 1 gathering, organized by the People's Power political bloc, was held in the Almaty offices of the unregistered opposition Algha (Forward) party.

City authorities had refused their request to hold a public gathering in the city center.

More than 500 people representing Kazakhstan's nongovernmental organizations, movements, and the People's Power bloc took part.

When the gathering ended, police officers forced the activists to leave the premises in small groups through a back door. The activists refused to do so and clashed with the police.

Narymbaev was taken to jail immediately after the verdict was pronounced.

Kuanyshalin returned to Algha offices, where he continued his hunger strike with three other activists.

Narymbaev, who leads the Arman (Dream) movement, has been arrested and sentenced to brief jail terms in the past.

He was jailed for 15 days after holding an unsanctioned political public action in March.