June 15, 2023

15.06.2023 – Kazakh Journalist and Politican who was on Hunger Strike Potentially Facing 12 Years in Prison

Duman Mukhammedkarim (Думан Мұхаммедкәрім), a Kazakh journalist and politican from Almaty (former Alma-Ata), the largest city in Kazakhstan, has been on a hunger strike till 12 June 2023 in protest against his 25-day jail term. He now faces additional charges of financing an extremist organisation, which carries a prison sentence of maximum 12 years.

Mukhammedkarim is also a failed candidate for parliament and he wanted to protest the results. He was cleared as a candidate in the March 2023 elections to the parliament after protesting his early banning as candidate.

Mukhammedkarim served previously 25 days in jail and was again detained on 1 May 2023 and sentenced again to 25 days in jail on a charge of violating regulations on public rallies. This happened after a video he published on his YouTube channel.

Mukhammedkarim’s father, Almaz Tilepov (Алмаз Тілепов), joined the hunger strike in solidarity, but had to stop due to health reasons.

Human rights watchdogs have condemned Kazakhstan’s authorities for their persecution of dissents and critical persons, although the government denies the existence of political prisoners in the country.

Kazakhstan was under the authoritarian rule of Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev (Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев) from December 1991 until March 2019 when President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev (Kassym-Jomart Tokayev / Қасым-Жомарт Тоқаев) took over. Toqaev, who gained expanded powers following antigovernment demonstrations in January 2022, has pledged political reforms and increased freedoms. However, many Kazakhstanis view these reforms as superficial. Over the past three decades, opposition figures in the country have been killed, imprisoned, or forced to flee. Only few existing critical media in the country are under great pressure. Most media are state controlled and under influence from Moscow. Different laws restrict media freedom.

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