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Address of the International League for Human Rights to the President of Kazakhstan

President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Republic of Kazakhstan
VIA FAX: +7 3172 326 182

May 21, 2002

Dear Mr. President,

The International League for Human Rights, a non-governmental in special consultative status at the United Nations, is seriously concerned about the reports of an attack on the Almaty office of the Sol-Dat newspaper, one of Kazakhstan's few remaining independent and opposition publications.

According to these reports, on May 21, four unknown persons forcibly entered the editorial office of the newspaper, severely beating two of its journalists. One of the attacked journalists, Bakhytgul Makymbayeva, is said to be in a "serious" condition. The intruders are also said to have bound the journalists' hands and taken all of the office equipment with them. Upon leaving, they allegedly said: "That was the last warning to you!"

Given the details of this particular attack and the recent history of persecution of the Sol-Dat newspaper, whose editor-in-chief was sentenced to a one-year prison term on charges of insulting the honor and dignity of the president, as well as the persecution of the country's independent mass media in general, the League believes that this is yet another politically-motivated attempt to silence all voices of dissent in Kazakhstan. Over the last few years, in response to an ever assertive opposition both at home and abroad, your government has repeatedly violated the freedom of expression, closing down newspapers in criminal libel suits and revoking licenses of several popular TV channels.

The League urges you to use your good offices to order an impartial investigation into the brutal attack on Sol-Dat and to stop persecuting independent and opposition media outlets, thereby restoring the citizens' right to enjoy free access to information in accordance with the international commitments your country has undertaken.

Thank you for your attention. We await your response.


Catherine Fitzpatrick
Executive Director

Cc: Amb. Saudabayev
VIA FAX: 202 232 5845

Cc: Amb. Napper
VIA FAX: 7 3272 587945

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