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Kazakhstan

Statement of the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan

Friday 7 January 2022, by Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, there is now a real popular uprising. From the very beginning the protests were of a social and class nature, as the doubling of the price of liquefied gas on the stock exchange was only the last straw in the overflowing cup of patience. After all, the protests began in Zhanaozen on the initiative of oil workers, which became a kind of political headquarters for the entire protest movement.

The dynamics of this movement are indicative as it started as a social protest, but then it began to expand, and the labour collectives used the meetings to put forward their demands for a wage increase of 100%, the cancellation of the results of optimisation, the improvement of labour conditions and freedom of trade union activity. As a result, as early as 3 January the entire Mangistau region was gripped by a general strike, which spilled over into the neighbouring Atyrau region.

As early as 4 January, oil workers at Tengizchevroil, where American companies have a 75% stake, went on strike. It was there that in December last year 40,000 workers were laid off and a new round of layoffs was planned. They were supported later in the day by oil workers of Aktobe and West Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda regions.

Moreover, in the evening of the same day, strikes of miners of ArmelorMittal Temirtau in Karaganda region and of copper smelters and miners of Kazakhmys corporation began what is essentially a general strike in the whole extractive industry of the country. There were also demands for higher wages, lowering of the retirement age, the right to trade unions and strikes.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, open-ended strikes already started in Atyrau, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, Kyzyl-Orda, Taraz, Taldykorgan, Turkestan, Shymkent, Ekibastuz, in towns of Almaty region and in Almaty itself, where barricading of streets during the night of 4-5 January led to the open clash of demonstrators with the police, as a result of which the city administration was temporarily seized. This gave Kassym-Jomart Tokayev grounds for declaring a state of emergency.

It should be noted that these demonstrations in Almaty were mainly composed of unemployed youth and internal migrants, living in the suburbs of the megalopolis and working in temporary or low-paid jobs. And attempts to placate them with promises to reduce gas price to 50 tenge, separately for the Mangistau region and Almaty have not satisfied anyone.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s decision to dismiss the government, and then to dismiss Nursultan Nazarbayev, the chairman of the Security Council, did not stop the protests either, as mass protest rallies began on 5 January in those regional centres of Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan, where there were none before - in Petropavlovsk, Pavlodar, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Semipalatinsk. At the same time, in Aktobe, Taldykorgan, Shymkent and Almaty, attempts were made to take the buildings of regional administrations by storm.

In Zhanaozen itself, the workers formulated new demands in their indefinite rally - the resignation of the current president and all Nazarbayev officials, the restoration of the 1993 Constitution and the related freedoms to create parties and trade unions, the release of political prisoners and the end of repression. The Council of Aksakals [Elders] was established as an informal governing body.

In this way, demands and slogans were transmitted to the entire movement, which are now used in various cities and regions, and the struggle was given a political content. There are also attempts on the ground to create committees and councils to coordinate the struggle.

At the same time, troops were brought to Almaty, Aktau and Zhanaozen. While in the Mangistau region, all passed peacefully, and the soldiers refused to disperse demonstrators, in the southern capital skirmishes began, and during the night of January 5 to 6 special forces were brought in to cleanse by force the airport and the neighbourhoods occupied by the insurgents. According to various reports, dozens of demonstrators have been killed.

In this situation there is a danger that all protests and strikes will be violently suppressed and the country must be completely paralysed by a general strike. It is therefore urgent to form united action committees along territorial and industrial lines to offer organized resistance to the military-police terror.

In this connection we also need the support of the entire international workers’ and communist movement and left-wing associations, with the aim of organising a major campaign in the world.

The socialist movement in Kazakhstan demands:

An immediate cessation of hostilities against its people and the withdrawal of troops from the cities!

The immediate resignation of all Nazarbayev officials, including President Tokayev!

Release of all political prisoners and detainees!

Ensuring the right to form their own trade unions, political parties, and to hold strikes and meetings!

Legalisation of the activities of the banned Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan!

We call on all workers and employees of the country to implement in practice the demand of the murdered oil workers of Zhanaozen - to nationalize, under the control of labour collectives, all extractive and large-scale industry in the country!

P.S.

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