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Kazakh Prosecutor Calls On Citizens Not To Take Part In 'Illegal' Rallies

A group of Kazakhs protest against "Chinese expansion" in Aqtobe on September 5.
A group of Kazakhs protest against "Chinese expansion" in Aqtobe on September 5.

NUR-SULTAN/ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The Prosecutor-General's Office has called on citizens not to take part in what it called "illegal" rallies planned by the banned Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice (DVK) movement on September 21.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Berik Asylov's statement announced via state-run media on September 20 warned the Central Asian state's citizens that law enforcement officers will "undertake strict measures to prevent illegal rallies," adding that participants in "illegal protests" may face administrative and criminal charges.

"Destructive forces are...provoking a threat to social security by trying to incite social and ethnic discord. The Prosecutor-General's Office calls on the citizens to strictly follow laws, stay away from provocations, and abstain from taking part in the illegal actions and activities of organizations banned on our country's territory," the statement said.

The leader of the DVK movement, Mukhtar Ablyazov, who has been residing in self-imposed exile in Europe for more than a decade, has called on Kazakh citizens to hold anti-government protests in Nur-Sultan, the capital, and Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, on September 21.

Meanwhile, the Almaty-based Coalition of Civil Initiatives human rights group said on September 20 that about 50 activists in Nur-Sultan, Almaty and several other cities had been fined or sentenced to jail terms of between seven and 15 days in the last five days on charges of organizing or taking part in unsanctioned rallies earlier this month.

According to the group, more people may be detained, fined, or jailed before the rallies on September 21 as the authorities look to scare off potential participants in the rallies.

The group said Kazakhstan's law on public gatherings contradicts international standards as it requires preliminary permission from the authorities to hold rallies and envisions prosecution for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies, while the constitution guarantees citizens the right of free assembly.

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