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Jailed Kazakh Activist Says He Swallowed Nails To Protest Conviction

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Baqtybaev was detained in October 2020 and charged with being a member of the banned Koshe (Street) Party and with illegal drug possession. He was sentenced to two years in prison in February. (file photo)

Jailed Kazakh opposition activist Baghdad Baqtybaev says he has swallowed iron nails to protest his conviction and incarceration.

Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, a leading member of the Almaty-based human rights group Ar, Rukh, Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), told RFE/RL on November 1 that a lawyer visited Baqtybaev at in the ZhDU-158/2 penal colony in the southern city of Taraz, and the activist confirmed that he swallowed several iron nails the day before.

Baqtybaev was quoted as saying he was feeling okay.

Toreghozhina earlier cited the activist's friends and colleagues as saying that Baqtybaev had maimed himself by swallowing nails on October 31 and needed urgent medical assistance.

Kazakhstan's Penitentiary Service (QAZh) rejected the information as "false," saying that Baqtybaev did not swallow any nails and did not complain about his health.

The 46-year-old Baqtybaev was detained in October 2020 and charged with being a member of the banned Koshe (Street) Party and with illegal drug possession. He was sentenced to two years in prison in February.

The Koshe Party is associated with the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) of fugitive businessman and former Energy Minister Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the Kazakh government for using anti-extremism laws as a tool to persecute critics and civil rights activists. Several hundred people have been prosecuted for membership in the DVK and Koshe Party in recent years.

In November 2020, Kazakh human rights organizations recognized Baqtybaev as a political prisoner.

Kazakh authorities insist there are no political prisoners in the Central Asian country.

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