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Striking Kazakh Oil Workers Thank Sting For Support

British singer-songwriter Sting
British singer-songwriter Sting
ATYRAU, Kazakhstan -- Striking oil workers in the western Kazakh city of Atyrau have sent a letter to popular singer Sting to thank him for canceling a concert in support of their strike, RFE/RL's Kazkah Service reports.

Their letter says: "You have expressed your civil viewpoint, which Kazakh singers were afraid to do. Your action [to cancel your performance] gave us, oil workers fighting for their rights in faraway western Kazakhstan's Manghystau deserts, additional strength and hope."

Some 900 oil workers signed the letter.

Sting was among numerous Kazakh and international performers invited to perform on July 4 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to mark the Day of Astana and to celebrate President Nursultan Nazarbaev's 71st birthday, which is on July 6.

Sting decided one day before the show to reject the invitation from Kazakh authorities to perform at the gala event. He said in a message on his website that his refusal was an expression of solidarity with the striking oil workers.

Hundreds of Kazakh oil workers have been on strike since May to demand the lifting of restrictions on trade unions, equal rights with foreigners working in the oil and gas sector in western Kazakhstan, and the release of a detained trade union activist.

Read more in Kazakh here