(Berlin) – Police in western Kazakhstan arrested two trade union leaders on January 20, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The men apparently face prosecution in connection with a hunger strike over the forced closure earlier in January of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan.
Amin Yeleusinov, chairman of an affiliate of the confederation, faces charges of embezzlement of union funds, and Nurbek Kushakbaev, deputy chairman of the confederation, is charged with calling for an illegal strike. An Astana court confirmed a two-month pretrial detention order on January 21. The authorities should release the two pending investigation, and immediately provide credible evidence to support the charges or drop them.
“Arrests are not acceptable in response to a peaceful and non-violent protest and are never a solution,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Kazakh authorities should respect the rights of workers to organize trade unions and to strike.”