Published: 04/04/2014
The international campaign in solidarity with imprisoned oil workers in Kazakhstan has delivered results. The campaign, supported by the IUF, IndustriAll, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. Within three months of the campaign launch over 11,400 letters were sent through LabourStart from around the world to Kazakhstan diplomatic missions, demanding freedom for the imprisoned oil workers. The on-line campaign was backed up by formal protest letters from union organizations, pickets in front of consulates and diplomatic missions and public debates at various international forums.

The strike, which broke out in 2011, lasted seven months, involved thousands of workers  and ended in a brutal massacre when armed police shot to death at least 16 people and wounded hundreds. Thirty-seven strikers were put on trial; many of them were tortured and sentenced to imprisonment.

Although the Kazakh authorities did not publicly respond to the campaign, they have heard the demands of the international labour movement. Two of the 7 jailed workers were released; three, including Rosa Tuletaeva, the only women among the imprisoned, were transferred from prison to a colony-settlement. Two remain in custody – Shabdan Utkilov and Kanat Zhusipbaev.

In the course of the campaign the Swiss workers solidarity aid group Solifonds issued a call for solidarity donations on behalf of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan. The funds are collected for the victims of the Zhanaozen massacre, for the families of the imprisoned, killed and injured and  for those who lost income and jobs as a result of the lockout.  For information on how to contribute write to [email protected]