Главная » Солидарность » Third anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre

111616th December marks the third anniversary of the brutal shooting down by state forces of oil-workers and their families who had been on strike for seven months in West Kazakhstan. What began as a strike turned into a mass movement involving pensioners, unemployed youth, the relatives and friends of the strikers. This in part is due to the belief of the strikers that they were fighting for all. They put as one of their demands pay rises for the region’s teachers and doctors because of their low wages and the high cost of living.

The strike started in May. After the break-up of the protesters camp in July, the protesters started a round the clock rally in the city’s central square. It was organised and disciplined. Oil workers from other sites and companies maintained solidarity, regularly collected from their wages money to help the strikers. Even though the two companies involved, “Ozenmunaigaz” and “Karazhanbasmunai” tried to sack the workforce and replace them with new workers, production fell dramatically and the profits taken by the owners, including members of the ruling family were badly hit.

The most important point is that there was a dramatic jump in the political consciousness of those workers who went through the seven and  half months of this school of class struggle in many ways similar to what happened to the Russia working class after the first Russian revolution in 1905. The strike quickly left the boundaries of economic struggle as the workers supported the nationalisation of the oil companies under workers’ control.  By November, the strikers set up a unified workers’ committee over the whole region which called for a boycott of the parliamentary election as a result of their lack of confidence in the current political parties and called for the setting up of a national unification of fighting trade unions and their own political party.

These calls culminated in a call for a general strike with the demand for Nazarbayev’s resignation which was due to be made on 16th December at the planned rally. This the ruling clique could not tolerate which led to the decision to prevent the movement developing into a national strike and protest by drowning the Zhanaozen protest in blood. At least 70 people were killed when the police opened fire on the peaceful and unarmed demonstration. For two weeks, the whole city was held in terror with mass arrests, tortures and disappearances. 37 of the most active protesters were put on trial and sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years.

For five days after the shootings, a general strike raged across the region, with protest meetings in the oil-fields themselves. In the following year, two short political strikes were held demanding the release of the imprisoned oil workers. In the three years since the strike, there have been more than 20 major strikes in the Mangystau region. In May, following the strike a just as dramatic strike took place at the “Kazakhmys” corporation which gained a 100% pay rise for the workers.

Socialist Movement Kazakhstan and the trade union “Zhanartu” call for:

  • Full independent investigation into the real number of victims amongst workers and their supporters, into the cases of torture and the names of those involved;
  • Full independent investigation into the facts around the organisation of the attack on the peaceful demonstration by the local authorities and company managers;
  • The immediate release of those still in prison with the full vindication and rehabilitation of those tried and imprisoned;
  • The complete freedom for trade union activities and strikes, with the establishment of genuine democratic and fighting trade unions across the country;
  • The nationalisation of industry and natural resources under the control of democratic workers committees;
  • The establishment of a party to represent the interests of the working class.

Ainur Kurmanov Socialist Movement Kazakhstan


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