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Self-Immolation Threats After Alleged Kazakh Prison Beatings

The notorious Dolinka prison in central Kazakhstan
The notorious Dolinka prison in central Kazakhstan
QARAGHANDY, Kazakhstan -- Two inmates at the notorious Dolinka prison in central Kazakhstan threatened to self-immolate themselves after allegedly being beaten by prison guards, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Well-known rights activist Vadim Kuramshin told RFE/RL on June 13 that the two prisoners -- Abdisalam Dyusenbekov and Bakhytzhan Kuzembaev -- climbed atop the roof of the solitary confinement block at Dolinka with jars of gasoline and threatened to set fire to themselves June 11.

Kuramshin said Kuzembaev had been summoned to the jail's operations-regime department where he was severely beaten by guards.

When he went to the medical department to ask that his injuries be officially recorded, he was summoned to the warden's office where he was beaten again, Kuramshin said.

He said that afterward, Kuzembaev and his friend Dyusenbekov -- who had recently received a similar beating -- decided to climb onto the roof with the gasoline. They remained there until a commission from Kazakhstan's Penitentiary System Control Committee (KUIS) arrived.

KUIS spokesman Ghalymzhan Khasenov confirmed the incident to RFE/RL, describing the two inmates' behavior as "hooliganism."

Khasenov added that prison officials and KUIS representatives managed to persuade the two men to come down from the roof. He said they have not been punished and are currently in their barracks, but not in solitary confinement.

The inmates' relatives were not available for comment.

Almost one year ago, a video posted on the Internet showing an inmate in Dolinka being beaten by a prison guard caused a public outcry.

In June 2010, five Dolinka inmates maimed themselves to protest the conditions in the facility.

Dolinka is in the central Kazakh region of Qaraghandy.

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