Human Rights Watch asked to “immediately” annul the order of the President of Kazakhstan to “shoot to kill”

Kazakh law enforcement officers stand guard at a checkpoint, after mass protests sparked by rising fuel prices broke out across the country, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 8, 2022. REUTERS / Pavel Mikheyev ( PAVEL MIKHEYEV /)

The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday demanded that the Kazakhstan authorities “immediately” annul any order from the Kazakh security forces to “shoot to kill” and urges compliance with international standards on the use of force.

“Kazakhstan is in the middle of its most violent crisis since independence and the world is very attentive to see if the government shows that it respects Human Rights “, said the associate director of Crisis and Conflicts of HRW, Letta tayler.

He has also added that it is It is “essential” that the Kazakh authorities ensure that all security forces on the ground “act with a view to safeguarding human life and are held accountable if they fail to do so”.

“I have ordered the security forces and the Army to shoot to kill without warning”, Said this Friday the president of the country, Kasim Jomart Tokayev, during a speech to the nation, in which he ruled out negotiating with the protesters, as reported by the Kazakh news portal Khabar 24.

Branded as “Stupidity” the calls “from abroad” for “a negotiation between the sides to resolve the problems politically“:” Is it possible to negotiate with criminals and murderers? “, He asked himself, before stressing that the authorities confront” armed and trained criminals, both nationals and foreigners. “

The president emphasized that “the antiterrorist operation continues in the country” and added that “there is a large-scale and well-coordinated work that is being carried out by the Police, the National Guard and the Army to establish the law and the order, in line with the Constitution ”.

The protests began due to the discomfort of the price of gas but, already extended to several cities, they have ended up becoming an unprecedented challenge to the current authorities, which have requested military aid from neighboring countries, including Russia, to contain the mobilizations. In addition, they have registered Internet outages across the country and hundreds of people have been arrested.

HRW recalled that “all international interruptions to Internet access”, condemned in 2016 by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in addition to “Violate freedom of expression and association”, can “hinder access to medical care, education and social services”.

“The Kazakh authorities have long restricted fundamental rights and rejected calls for reforms, such as lifting restrictions on peaceful protests and freedom of expression and bans on opposition groups, and ending of politically motivated prosecutions of government critics“Said the NGO in a statement.

In addition, within the framework of the protests, HRW has denounced that security forces used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons to disperse peaceful protests in the cities of Almaty and Aktobe, as he was able to verify in several videos and images.

Regarding the statements of the Kazakh president that point out the protesters as “terrorists” who damage “public and private property using weapons against citizens”, HRW argues that the authorities have not offered any proof of these claims.

protests in Kazakhstan
Protesters participate in a rally for rising energy prices in Almaty on January 5, 2022. (Photo by Abduaziz MADYAROV / AFP) (ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV /)

HRW has reiterated that several media correspondents described Kazakh security forces “firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters.”

“The video that Human Rights Watch reviewed of the events of January 6 showed Kazakh security forces firing live ammunition in the streets of Almaty. A local medium,, reported that a loudspeaker in a military vehicle parked in Almaty’s Republic Square that afternoon was warning bystanders: ‘Get out, we’ll shoot!’”, The NGO explained in a statement.

Regarding the violence that could develop in the face of the deployment of troops in the country, the NGO recalled that International Law allows security forces to act “with the necessary proportional force” to defend themselves or others from serious threats.

Specifically, HRW has detailed that stun grenades should not be used in large crowds and, given the winter conditions in Kazakhstan, the use of water cannons should be avoided. In addition, he stressed that tear gas should not be used indoors.

Protesters confront law enforcement during a protest sparked by rising fuel prices in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, on January 5, 2022, in this image taken from video.  Video taken on January 5, 2022. Ministry of the Interior of Kazakhstan / Handout via REUTERS
Protesters confront law enforcement during a protest sparked by rising fuel prices in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, on January 5, 2022, in this image taken from video. Video taken on January 5, 2022. Ministry of the Interior of Kazakhstan / Handout via REUTERS (INTERIOR MINISTRY OF KAZAKHSTAN /)

With regard to the detainees, who at the moment are more than 4,200, HRW has expressed concern about their condition or whether they have legal representation: “The authorities must guarantee that all persons detained in recent days enjoy all due process rights, including access to a lawyer of their choice”.

“Reports of widespread deaths and injuries and the Kazakh government’s descriptions of protesters as ‘terrorists’ raise concerns that the national police and military are using excessive force, including against unarmed people“, has said.

Tayler has concluded that such a flood of reports and images showing dead protesters and troops firing “indiscriminately” suggests that “The Police and the soldiers are disobeying the rules on the use of force”.

“The government of Kazakhstan must show zero tolerance for excessive force by your security forces or foreign troops in the country and it must enforce the respect of international legal norms ”, he concluded.

(With information from Europa Press)


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