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Majlis Podcast: 10 Years Later, Many Questions Remain About The Zhanaozen Violence

Riot police patrol the Kazakh town of Zhanaozen shortly after violence claimed the lives of at least 16 striking oil workers.
Riot police patrol the Kazakh town of Zhanaozen shortly after violence claimed the lives of at least 16 striking oil workers.

In 2011, a group of oil workers in western Kazakhstan started a labor strike that would last for more than half a year.

Workers from other industries in the area joined in solidarity. Independent trade unions, activists, and opposition figures supported the striking workers and visited them.

On December 16, 2011, as Kazakhstan marked 20 years of independence, police opened fire on the striking workers, who were demonstrating in the town of Zhanaozen.

Sixteen people were killed and 64 wounded, officially. But to this day there are some people who say the number was higher and that those responsible for ordering the deadly use of force and violence against people who were detained in the days after have never been punished.

It was the worst violence in Kazakhstan since independence in 1991.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on what happened in Zhanaozen on that day 10 years ago and what has happened since, and how the tragedy is remembered in Kazakhstan today.

This week's guests are all from Kazakhstan: from Almaty, Yevgeny Zhovtis, the director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law; also from Almaty, Nurseit Niyazbekov, assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at KIMEP University; from Nur-Sultan, Darkhan Umirbekov, a senior correspondent with RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, known locally as Radio Azattyq; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Ten Years Later, Many Questions Remain About Zhanaozen Violence
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.​

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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