Kazakh opposition gathers for rare rally

Kazakh opposition gathers for rare rally
# 28 January 2012 11:34 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Hundreds of opposition supporters protested the results of recent elections and the violent suppression of an oil workers protest at a demonstrationi Saturday in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Associated Press reported.

The meeting took place peacefully and police did not break it up, as is common at unauthorized political rallies in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

However, the All-National Social Democratic Party, or OSDP, said in a statement after the meeting that several party members, including co-leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, were detained and taken to the police station.

OSDP co-leader Bulat Abilov told the crowd in the centre of Almaty that meetings would be held once every month. Even the smallest of rallies are a rarity in a nation in which dissent is not tolerated.

Before the meeting concluded, the crowd united in prayer in commemoration of people killed last month in the western oil town of Zhanaozen, where at least 16 died during clashes between police and striking labourers. Authorities are prosecuting several police officers for exceeding their authority by opening fire on rampaging protesters.

At the end of the meeting, Abilov led the crowd in chants of "We are sick of this outrage!"

The ruling Nur Otan party gained control of 83 of the parliament’s 107 seats in elections this month that international observers said didn’t meet democratic standards.

OSDP, the only genuinely robust opposition force taking part, garnered 2 percent of the ballot.

International observers said the election failed to meet democratic standards.