Kazakh oil workers

On 16 December 2011, a seven-month strike by oil workers in Kazakhstan was brought to an end by a massacre: the security forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at Zhanaozen. At least 16 people were killed, and 60 wounded. In June 2012, oil workers and other activists were imprisoned for terms of up to six years. All the evidence points to the use of torture during pre-trial detention. This page aims to inform you about campaigns in the UK in support of the oil workers, and provide links to more information.

To read a detailed account of the oil workers’ strike, see Zhanaozen: worker organisation and repression.

Update, December 2021

Kazakhstan, ten years after the Zhanaozen massacre: oil workers’ fight to organise goes on 

Update, January 2020

They shot to kill: eight years on from the Zhanaozen massacre. Interview with Galym Ageleuov

Update, April 2017

After a renewed bout of trade union organising in the oil field at the end of 2016, two militants, Nurbek Kashakbayev and Amin Yeleusinov, were arrested. In April Kashakbayev was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. An international trade union campaign began in his defence.

Update, December 2015

The continuing campaign for justice for those murdered on 16 December 2011, and those tortured by the police and unjustly convicted by the courts, is reported here.

News about an international challenge to Kazakhstan’s anti-trade union laws, and about some victims of repression in Zhanaozen, is here.

The Justice for Kazakhstan Oil Workers group in London, together with trade unionists in Russia, Ukraine, France and other countries, will continue to support the oil workers of Zhanaozen. I’ll put information here as and when I get it. Email me at gabriel.levy.mail@gmail.com if you want to stay in touch.

Film Zhanaozen: the unknown tragedy now (Dec 2014) available on line

Share the link to this 30-min documentary film by Yulia Mazurova (English version)

Join the open facebook group here

Justice for Kazakhstan oil workers

Past events

Monday 16 December 2013. Demonstration for Justice for Kazakhstan’s Oil Workers. 10.0 am at the Foreign Office, Whitehall, and 12.0 midday at the Kazakh embassy, Pall Mall, London. Report on the Platform web site hereDownload a leaflet here.

An open letter was handed in to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague,  signed by the RMT union Offshore Energy Branch, which represents British oil workers, Labour MPs and trade union officials.

Wednesday 4 December 2013. Showing of the film Zhanaozen: the Unknown Tragedy at 6.0 pm, at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1. Organised by the Solicitors International Human Rights Group. Download the flyer here. This showing was followed by a panel discussion in which director Yulia Mazurova and producer Denis Bilunov explained how they had put the film together. Film producer Tony Garnett came to express his support: “this is a terrific film”, he said, and urged trade unions to get involved in distributing it. Russian trade union activist Kirill Buketov spoke about the international campaign in support of the imprisoned Kazakh oil workers.

Saturday 19 October 2013. A session at the Anarchist Bookfair in London will discuss: “Russia and Kazakhstan: free political prisoners”. 5.0 pm, room 240, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS. More information here. Note: that was a pretty successful session!

Trade union campaigning

Union Solidarity International is coordinating support for the Zhanaozen oil workers among trades unionists. Visit its campaign page here.

On 11 December 2013, the International Trade Union Confederation, which brings together national union federations in 161 countries, wrote to the Kazakh president urging the release of seven people jailed as a result of the Zhanaozen events. That’s a letter that other union bodies could well follow up on.

Download a model resolution here.

News and analysis

Investors who profit as oil workers face repression (19 April 2017)

Kazakhstan. A young mother grieves, Tony Blair cashes in (20 April 2016)

Kazakhstan: who ordered the killings and tortures? (13 December 2015)

Kazakhstan: oil companies threaten activists (13 December 2015)

Kazakh oil workers: the fight for justice goes on, by Erlan Kaliev (December 2014)

Kazakhstan: most jailed oil workers now free, truth about massacre still hidden (22 April 2014)

Court moves jailed oil worker Roza (9 January 2014)

Kazakhstan: remembering Zhanaozen (Institute of War & Peace Reporting, 10 December 2013)

“Roza is a leader: that’s why they jailed her” (December 2013)

Zhanaozen: worker organisation and repression (December 2013) A detailed feature article about the 2011 strike

Tony Blair slammed by human rights activists for his work with the Kazakh government (The Guardian, 8 November 2013)

Kyiv conference demands justice for Kazakh oil workers (November 2013)

Roza Tuletaeva in danger (Open Dialog Foundation, July 2013)

The cost of Kazakh oil (Red Pepper, December 2012)

London rail workers call for action on Kazakhstan oilfield repression (November 2012)

Support Pussy Riot by all means. But support the Kazakh oil workers too (August 2012)

The price of oil: Kazakh activists imprisoned (June 2012)

The price of oil, the Kazakh massacre and the city of London (December 2011)

Information material and reports

A list of the imprisoned oil workers

The preliminary report on the oil workers’ trial by the international monitoring mission of Civic Solidarity (2012)

Striking Oil, Striking Workers – a Human Rights Watch report on repression against Kazakh oil workers (2012)

Resolution by London rail workers

Report by the Solicitors International Human Rights Group on the trial of Vladimir Kozlov and others

The “Zhanaozen oil workers” site (mostly Russian, a bit of English)

9 Responses to Kazakh oil workers

  1. […] anniversary of the Zhanaozen killings, in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and across western Europe. The London event, outside the Foreign Office, will highlight UK government and business links with Kazakhstan.  […]

  2. […] For more information on the Justice for Kazakhstan Oil Workers campaign, see: https://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/kazakh-oil-workers/ […]

  3. […] The Caspian region’s longest-running oil workers’ strike, a seven-month stoppage in 2011 in Kazakhstan, ended with a police massacre of workers and jailings of activists. There has been a campaign for justice. All is highlighted here. […]

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