Activists, Journalists Detained As Kazakhstan Marks Anniversary Of Independence

Police in Kazakhstan have detained several human rights activists who attempted to commemorate victims of 2011 and 1986 police crackdowns, as the country celebrates the 27th anniversary of its independence from the former Soviet Union.

The December 16 police crackdown came as activists attempted to gather near the Independence Monument in central Almaty to commemorate people killed by police during oil-worker protests in the western town of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011 and during mass demonstrations in Almaty in 1986.

Bakhytzhan Toregozhina, head of the human rights foundation Ar.Rukh.Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), told RFE/RL that some activists were also detained by authorities "right before leaving their homes."

Toregozhina posted photos on her Facebook page showing police positioned on the street outside of her home and said the authorities were preventing her from leaving.

In the city of Oral in the West Kazakhstan region, police detained journalists Mariya Melnikova and Raul Uporov from the Uralskaya Nedelya newspaper on December 16.

The Adil Soz media watchdog in Kazakhstan reported that police in Oral were also posted outside the homes of the newspaper's owner, Tamara Esliyamova, and its chief editor, Lukpan Akhmediyarov.

Adil Soz said the authorities were preventing Esliyamova and Akhmediyarov from leaving their homes.