Urgent Action: Activist Jailed for Criticism During Pandemic (Kazakhstan: UA 65.20)

Kazakhstani human rights activist, Alnur Ilyashev, has been arrested for his publications on social media that criticized the ruling Nur Otan party and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is being prosecuted for “spreading false information” that harms “interests” during the state of emergency, a crime which carries up to seven years in prison. Alnur Ilyashev is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.



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Ghizat Daurenbekovich Nurdauletov
Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Email: [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
1401 16th St NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 232 5488
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @KazakhEmbassy
Facebook: @KazakhEmbassyDC
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Prosecutor General,

I am writing to you regarding the prosecution of Alnur Ilyashev, a human rights activist from Almaty. Alnur Ilyashev is a prisoner of conscience and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Alnur Ilyashev was arrested on 17 April 2020, and is being charged with spreading “false information” that “threatens public order” and causes “substantive harm” to “protected interests of society” during the state of emergency in connection with his critical posts on social media about the ruling Nur Otan party. The police investigator claimed that Alnur Ilyashev’s posts sought to influence public opinion about the “incompetence of the activities of the Nur Otan party” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and thereby “may lead to negative consequences”.

Alnur Ilyashev has committed no crime and has exercised his right to freedom of expression. The authorities of Kazakhstan are using the pretext of COVID-19 to put a critic behind bars and intimidate others. The police used physical force against his family members when they searched their homes, despite the fact that his relatives showed no resistance. His underaged daughter had a panic attack and lost consciousness when the police entered and searched the apartment where she was in the absence of any adult.

I urge you to terminate criminal proceedings against prisoner of conscience Alnur Ilyashev and order his immediate and unconditional release; investigate abusive use of force by police officers during the search of Alnur Ilyashev’s home and the house of others associated with him; and ensure that every person in Kazakhstan can exercise their right to freedom of expression and end any abuse of human rights in Kazakhstan in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yours sincerely,