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Another Striking Oil Worker Attacked In Western Kazakhstan

The striking oil workers continue to face official and unofficial harrassment.
The striking oil workers continue to face official and unofficial harrassment.
ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- One of the leaders of a strike by oil workers in western Kazakhstan has been shot in an apparent rubber-bullet attack, the latest in a string of similar assaults on strikers or journalists covering the walkout, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Estai Qarashaev told RFE/RL that he was summoned on October 26 by local police in the town of Zhanaozen who questioned him about his role in the ongoing oil-worker strike. Qarashaev said the police asked him to persuade the strikers to stop the strike and accept the conditions offered by their employers and the local government.

"When I returned home from the police station, a man attacked me in the corridor of my apartment block. He beat me, and when I started resisting the attack, he shot me and I passed out," Qarashaev said. "When I regained consciousness, I called the police and they found a rubber bullet at the scene."

Qarashaev went to a hospital for medical treatment and then returned home. Local police told RFE/RL they had opened an investigation.

Also on October 26, two journalists from the independent Stan-TV online television company were attacked with baseball bats, and one of them was shot at with a rubber bullet, in the capital of Manghystau Oblast, Aqtau.

The journalists, Orken Zhoyamergen and Asan Amilov, have been covering the oil-worker strike since it began.

Violence Against Strikers

On October 10, another striking oil worker in Zhanaozen, Zhanar Saqtaghanova, was shot with a rubber bullet by an unknown assailant.

Thousands of workers at the Qarazhanbasmunai and OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporations in Zhanaozen have been on strike since May.

They are demanding a wage increase, equal rights with foreign workers, and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region.

Three deaths have been linked to the strike. In early October, one of the striking workers is reported to have hanged himself.

In August, the missing daughter of another leading activist for the striking workers was found dead in Zhanaozen, the same month another activist was killed by unknown assailants.

Read more in Kazakh here