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11-01-2022 | Edited News

UNOG Bi-Weekly Press Briefing: Kazakhstan Unrest - OHCHR

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  1. Exterior wide shot, United Nations flags flying
  2. Wide shot, press briefing room
  3. SOUNDBITE (English): Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “We understand that the Ministry of Interior has announced that some 9 900 people are in detention as of the 11th of January. Now, this is clearly a huge number. What we would say, of course, is that under the international law, people have the right to protest peacefully and the right to express their opinions. And they shouldn't be detained simply for expressing their opinions”.
  4. Medium shot, podium at the press briefing at the United Nations in Geneva
  1. SOUNDBITE (English): Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “All those arrested and detained solely for exercising these rights should be released immediately. Now, of course, we have seen the damage and destruction for example in Almaty, we have seen the burned buildings. So clearly among these and we don't have a breakdown of who is in detention - it is a huge number as I say - but clearly there will be some people who have been arrested and are likely to be charged”.
  2. Medium shot, cameraman in press briefing
  3. SOUNDBITE (English): Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “What is very important for us is that the ombudsperson, the Kazakh ombudsperson, is able to fulfill fully her mandate related to what is called the national preventive mechanism. And that relates to torture by visiting places of detention”.
  1. Medium shot, journalist in press room
  2. SOUNDBITE (English): Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson: “With regard to what happened last week, there are, of course, prompt, independent, impartial investigations into these killings and that would include, for example, whether unnecessary and disproportionate use of force was made by the security forces. at the same time, of course, we have to also stress clearly that there were also armed individuals who were taking to the streets of Almaty and other parts of Kazakhstan”.
  3. Medium shot, journalist sitting in front of screen at UN press briefing
  4. Close up, hands typing
  5. Close up, camera screen with Liz Throssel on podium

As the death toll from the recent unrest in Kazakhstan mounts to 164, the UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR) today requested “prompt, independent, impartial investigations into these killings and that would include whether unnecessary and disproportionated use of force was made by security forces”. 

Close to 10,000 people are now estimated to be held in detention following the riots.  "We understand that the Ministry of Interior has announced that some 9 900 people are in detention as of the 11th of January. Now, this is clearly a huge number," said OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell at a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva.

"What we would say is that under the international law, people have the right to protest peacefully and the right to express their opinions. And they shouldn't be detained simply for expressing their opinions”, Throssell added. 

“All those  arrested and detained solely for exercising these rights should be released immediately. Now, of course, we have seen the damage and destruction for example in Almaty, we have seen the burned buildings. So clearly among these and we don't have a breakdown of who is in detention - it is a huge number as I say - but clearly there will be some people who have been arrested and are likely to be charged," the OHCHR spokesperson said. 

She added, that “at the same time, of course, we have to also stress clearly that there were also armed individuals who were taking to the streets of Almaty and other parts of Kazakhstan”.

Throssell stressed that all detainees should have access to a lawyer, as part of their basic human rights.

What is very important for us is that the ombudsperson, the Kazakh ombudsperson, is able to fulfill fully her mandate related to what is called the national preventive mechanism and that relates to torture by visiting places of detention”, said OHCHR’s Liz Throssell.

According to news agencies, protests began on Sunday when the government lifted its price cap on liquified petroleum gas (LPG), a popular fuel for cars and heating. Since then, the unrest has spread to include longstanding political grievances. 

A state of emergency, which was declared in several areas of Kazakhstan on 5 January ( including in the main city of Almaty and the capital, Nur-Sultan) has been extended to the whole country. 

A week after the start of the riots that shook the country, calm is gradually returning to Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. A day of mourning is being observed throughout the country, while the telephone network, Internet and public transport are gradually being restored.  

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