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Activists Demand Immediate Release Of Kazakh Land-Law Protesters

ALMATY -- Leading rights activists and journalists in Kazakhstan have called on the authorities to immediately release dozens of individuals arrested for taking part in or calling for unsanctioned mass protests against land privatization legislation.

Members of the Arasha (Interference), a committee for the release of land law protesters that was established on May 26, said at a press conference in Almaty on May 30 that the protesters were "illegally arrested" for trying to exercise their right of freedom of assembly.

Hundreds of activists were detained ahead of planned May 21 nationwide protests against new legislation to privatize agricultural land.

The majority of them were released, but some were fined or sent to prison for 10 to 15 days.

Several activists were ordered into pretrial detention as charges of inciting social discord are investigated.

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