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NUR-SULTAN — Human rights activists in Kazakhstan slammed a government list of men and women killed during and after anti-government protests in January, calling it “insufficient”.
The unregistered human rights group Qaharman (Heroes) said in a statement on August 17 that the list, published by the government a day earlier, included only the surnames and initials of the victims.
The group demanded that detailed information about each victim be made public, including first and last names, ages, exact times of death, exact causes and locations of death, and the circumstances in which the deaths occurred.
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The group also called on Kazakh citizens who lost people in the unrest but did not see those victims on the list to contact it immediately.
Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, a prominent member of the Almaty-based human rights group Ar, Rukh, Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), said the list provided by the attorney general’s office was incomplete.
“For example, during the unrest in Almaty, a 22-year-old Israeli citizen, Levon Kogeashvili, who had resided in Kazakhstan for several years, was killed. But his name is not on the list. Why? We have our own list with all necessary details, such as names, ages and cities where they were killed. We will make our list public in the coming days,” Toreghozhina said.
On August 16, Kazakh authorities raised the toll from the unrest to 238, adding six more people who died in police custody to the initial tally.
Thousands of people have been arrested during and after the protests, which erupted when a peaceful protest in a western district against a fuel price hike led to nationwide anti-government protests that were violently dispersed by the security forces and the army.
President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev blamed the unrest on “20,000 terrorists” from abroad, a claim for which authorities have provided no evidence. Russia briefly sent troops to help protect key government installations.
In June, prosecutors said the total death toll stood at 232. Deputy Prosecutor General Aset Shyndaliev also said at the time that six people had been tortured to death after being arrested for participating in the protests. January.
He also said an unknown number of security officers had been arrested in connection with the torture allegations.
Eldos Qilymzhanov, a senior official in the Attorney General’s Office, said on August 16 that six people arrested during the riots had died as a result of “illegal methods of interrogation by law enforcement,” adding that 15 law enforcement was under investigation.
The attorney general’s office said earlier that 25 people were officially considered victims of torture and had been subjected to hot irons used by investigators during interrogations.
Human rights groups said the number of protesters killed was far higher than any figures provided by officials. The groups provided evidence that peaceful protesters and people who had nothing to do with the protests were among those killed by law enforcement and the military.
The unrest led to the withdrawal of former President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his associates from Kazakh politics. Some relatives have been removed from their jobs, lost influential positions in companies or even been arrested for corruption.
Kazakh authorities have rejected calls by Kazakh and global human rights groups for an international investigation.