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Jailed Kazakh Civil Rights Activist Placed In Solitary Confinement For 'Attacking Cellmates'

Sanavar Zakirova
Sanavar Zakirova

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Jailed Kazakh civil rights activist Sanavar Zakirova has been placed in solitary confinement for allegedly attacking three cellmates, which her daughter called part of a politically motivated campaign against her.

Malika Zakirova told RFE/RL on September 18 that her mother, who is being held in a detention center in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, was defending herself from an attack by the three inmates, which lead to her being placed in solitary confinement.

Officials at the detention center told RFE/RL that Zakirova was transferred to solitary confinement for five days "for attacking three inmates."

Zakirova's lawyer, Zhanar Balghabaeva, told RFE/RL on September 18 that her client had complained since mid-August that the detention center's administration was using other inmates to pressure her and officially asked for a transfer to another penitentiary as her life was in danger.

Zakirova, who is well known for her political and civil-rights activities, was sentenced to one year in prison in mid-July after the Medeu district court in Almaty found her guilty of assaulting the daughter of a woman who had hurled vulgarities at a rally in March.

Zakirova has insisted that all of the accusations against her are groundless and politically motivated.

She was an initiator of and leading participant in rallies in Almaty and Nur-Sultan, the capital, last year by residents of Kazakhstan's different regions, demanding action on what they called "wrong court decisions" in various cases.

In March 2019, Almaty city authorities denied Zakirova permission to hold a congress to establish a new political party, Our Right.

In November 2019, Zakirova and two other activists were found guilty by a court in Almaty of distributing false information about the ruling Nur-Otan party over the Internet.

They were ordered to pay the equivalent of $15,000 to the party. Zakirova and her supporters said then that the case was politically motivated.

Days later Zakirova and three other female activists mocked Nur-Otan, staging a public action -- asking worshipers outside a mosque in Nur-Sultan for money to help pay a fine to the ruling party.

Police detained the women then and fined them the equivalent of $32 each for causing a public nuisance.

Last week, Kazakhstan’s human rights organizations recognized Zakirova a political prisoner.

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