Freedom House Calls for Investigation Into Attack on Kazakh Journalist
Lukpan Akmedyarov (Photo Credit | Askarok)
Freedom House deplores the brutal attack on Lukpan Akmedyarov, a prominent Kazakhstani journalist known for his outspoken criticism of local and national authorities, and urges the government of Kazakhstan to swiftly and thoroughly investigate the attack and bring all involved to justice.
Akmedyarov, a writer for newspaper Uralsk Week, was attacked outside his house by multiple assailants on the evening of April 19. Akmedyarov suffered knife wounds to the neck and chest and was shot twice in the chest with a pistol. The general prosecutor has opened an investigation under the charge of attempted murder. Akmedyarov is conscious and in stable condition after three hours of surgery overnight at the regional hospital.
“This attack is a shocking reminder that expressing dissent can be a life-threatening activity in Kazakhstan,” said Susan Corke, Director for Eurasia Programs at Freedom House. “Our thoughts are with Lukpan and his family. Freedom House will be watching closely to see if Kazakhstan delivers justice. Impunity in this case would send a message that civil society is a fair target for violence. This is an important opportunity for the government of Kazakhstan, which insists it observes democratic principles, to demonstrate its willingness to defend a free press.”
The chief editor at Uralsk Week said the attack was likely connected to the journalist's activism, which included organizing "Days of Dissent" in Uralsk. In recent weeks, local security services pressured Akmedyarov's wife in an effort to force him to cease his activism.
Activists and journalists in Kazakhstan have reported an increasing atmosphere of intimidation and harassment by security services since December 16, when police put down riots in the Western town of Zhanaozen with lethal force.
Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
Learn more about Kazakhstan:
Nations in Transit 2011: Kazakhstan
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