Kazakhstan: Labour rights defender Erlan Baltabay sentenced to five months in prison, in midst of escalating repression of union rights

Author: Peoples Dispatch, Published on: 5 November 2019

"International campaign seeks release of Kazakh trade union leader Erlan Baltabay", 05 Nov 2019

Activist groups, including IndustriALL Global Union, are campaigning for the immediate release of prominent Kazakh trade union leader Erlan Baltabay, who has been sentenced to five months in prison. Baltabay, a leader of the  Independent Oil and Energy Workers Union, is also facing a seven-year jail term for his involvement in the banned Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan... In June, Kazakhstan was asked by the International Labor Organization to review the ongoing repression of workers and activists... The Kazakh authorities have... suppressed dissent, carrying out crackdowns on independent trade unions and other organizations in the labor sector. The mass protests against the presidential elections in June were also suppressed by government forces...  “Erlan Baltabay’s imprisonment...was completely unjustified. The entire criminal process against him was a travesty of justice... We urge the authorities to release Erlan...” general secretary of the ITUC, Sharan Burrow, said... Kazakhstan was put under “special scrutiny for systematic violations of the trade union and human rights,” in 2017 and 2019 by the International Labour Conference...Earlier this year,...legislative changes were instituted...to prevent workers from forming unions and bargaining collectively... [C]riminal sanctions have been introduced for leading or participating in ‘illegal’ strikes...

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