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Human rights activists: Kazakhstan uses coronavirus to harass dissidents

Human rights activists: Kazakhstan uses coronavirus to harass dissidents

According to activists, authorities use quarantine measures to restrict freedom of assembly

WASHINGTON – Kazakhstan’s government is using coronavirus-related restrictive measures to pressure citizens to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, human rights activists and observers of the Central Asian country say.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 127,580 cases of COVID-19 and 1945 deaths were registered in Kazakhstan.

Central Asian researcher Heather McGill from Amnesty International told Voice of America that any Kazakhstani who criticizes the authorities’ actions in connection with the spread of the deadly virus could be prosecuted for “disseminating deliberately false information” and deprived of the right to engage in “voluntary socio-political activism “some years.

Peaceful demonstrators are often detained before or during events on the pretext of preventing the spread of coronavirus, she said..

“Torture and other ill-treatment is widespread in police custody,” McGill said, recalling the suspicious death of prominent Kazakh activist Dulat Agadil in a detention center in Nur-Sultan in February this year..

Agadil, a 43-year-old father of six, regularly attended demonstrations calling for the release of political prisoners.

His death a few hours after being detained by Kazakhstani police on February 24 provoked anti-government rallies, the participants of which blamed the authorities and called for the resignation of Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev.

However, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that Agadil died of heart failure, and that “to say otherwise is to go against the truth.”.

Human rights activists: Kazakhstan uses coronavirus to harass dissidents

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