Kazakh Journalist Joins Hunger Strike By Jailed Activist

ALMATY -- A Kazakh journalist who heads the Journalists in Trouble foundation, Ramazan Esergepov, has joined a hunger strike by a jailed Kazakh activist.

Esergepov told RFE/RL on June 23 that other people may join the protest in solidarity with Maks Boqaev, an activist who was jailed for participating in mass demonstration against land reforms in 2016.

Boqaev’s relatives told RFE/RL on June 22 that he has been on hunger strike for two weeks to protest his prison transfer from the western region of Atyrau to the northern city of Petropavl.

Boqaev and another activist, Talghat Ayan, were each sentenced to five years in prison after a court found them guilty of inciting social unrest, spreading false information, and violating a law on public gatherings.

The judge in Atyrau ruled they would serve their prison terms in the region, but they were transferred this year to Petropavl, more than 1,500 kilometers away.

Ayan and Boqaev have both claimed the cases against them were politically motivated.

They were detained in April 2016 in Atyrau, where thousands of people protested a land-reform bill.

The European Union and United Nationsrights experts have urged the immediate release the activists.