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UN Official Urges Independent Investigation Of Zhanaozen

ASTANA -- The UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association says an independent international investigation into the deadly 2011 events in the Kazakh city of Zhanaozen is needed.

Maina Kiai said at a public hearing in Astana on January 27 that such investigations are needed to restore people's trust in the central government.

Kiai came to Kazakhstan last week and met in Zhanaozen with residents, rights activists, union members, and local officials.

Kazakh police shot dead at least 16 people during a crackdown on an oil worker protest in Zhanaozen in December 2011.

International and domestic rights organizations condemned the action against the protesters, who were demanding the payment of overdue salaries.

Dozens of activists, several police, and local officials were sentenced to prison terms after the deadly crackdown.

But Kazakh civil rights activists say none of those who gave the command to shoot were arrested.

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