Kazakhstan: Aron Atabek beaten in prison

English PEN shares PEN International’s grave concerns at reports that the imprisoned poet Aron Atabek – who is in ill health – has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated by prison guards

According to Aron Atabek’s son, his father has suffered regular beatings on the head and neck during his incarceration in Pavlodar prison. There is an absolute prohibition on the use of torture or other ill-treatment under international law. PEN calls on the Kazakh authorities to protect Aron Atabek from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment, to investigate the reports that he has been beaten in detention, to bring to justice anyone suspected of abuses, and to provide him with appropriate medical care for his ailments.

In December 2012 whilst in prison on other charges, Atabek was sentenced to two years’ solitary confinement in a maximum security jail in Arkalyk – 1,600km away from his family – for writing The Heart of Eurasia, a book that fiercely criticised President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In March 2014, Atabek was moved to a prison in Pavlodar, 1,400km from his family.

Following a recent prison visit, Atabek’s son told PEN that his father has been regularly placed in a solitary confinement, that he has suffered frequent beatings by the prison guards and that some of his prison writings – critical of President Nazarbayev – have been confiscated by the KNB (formerly known as the KGB).

According to the poet’s son, the prison authorities are also continuing to deny Atabek adequate medical attention, despite his deteriorating health. Atabek suffers (or has suffered) from the following conditions: coronary artery disease, chronic gastritis, cerebral sclerosis, lumbar back pain, swollen knee joints and a pinched trigeminal nerve. Due to his back and knee problems, Atabek walks with great difficulty. In the absence of appropriate medical care, Atabek’s son tried to provide his father with medicine during his recent visit. However, this was prevented by the prison guards. Atabek’s supporters have sent packages of medicine and even crutches to the poet but, according to his son, these have been withheld by the prison authorities.

For further background information, please visit the PEN International website.

Take Action

  • Write to the Kazakh authorities calling on them to protect Aron Atabek from all forms of torture and ill treatment, to investigate the reports that he has been beaten in detention, and to bring to justice anyone suspected of abuses;
  • Write to your ambassador to Kazakhstan and, if appropriate, your MEP, urging them to raise the issue of Atabek’s torture and lack of proper medical attention with the Kazakh government;
  • Write messages of support to Atabek in jail. He has already received a number of letters from PEN members and, according to his son, these have helped maintain his morale;
  • Tweet: #Kazakhstan must protect jailed poet #AronAtabek from all forms of torture and other ill-treatment @MVD_RK @pen_int

Addresses

Prison Address:
(Russian)
Арон ЕДИГЕЕВ (АТАБЕК)
Учреждение АП-162/1, 140000, г. Павлодар, ул.Циолковского б\н.

(English)
Aron EDIGEEV (ATABEK)
Uchrezhdenie АП-162/1, zip-code: 140000, Pavlodar city, Tsiolkovskogo street b/n

President of Kazakhstan
President Nursultan Nazarbayev
President’s Office,
010000 Astana
Kazakhstan
Fax: +7 7172 559338

Minister of Internal Affairs
Kalmukhanbet Kassymov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Tauelsizdik Avenue, 1
010000 Astana
Republik of Kazakhstan
Email: Kense@mvd.kz

Please send copies of your appeals to the Embassy of Kazakhstan here in the UK:

His Excellency Mr. Kairat Abusseitov
The Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
125 Pall Mall
London
SW1Y 5EA
Fax: +44 (0)207 930 89 90
Email: london@mfa.kz

AMBIT ACTION

Aron Atabek was the first writer at risk to be featured in ‘Ambit Action’, a collaboration with the team at Ambit Magazine to help raise greater awareness of some of our cases of concern and their work. Head over to their website now to read Atabek’s poem ‘My Throat Will Die‘, translated by Niall McDevitt and Alfia Nakipbekova.

SAMPLE APPEAL

You may wish to write to the authorities using the form below. A sample letter is provided, but we would highly recommend personalising your appeal.

[ecampaign ‘to=Kense@mvd.kz’ subject=”Concerns for Aron Atabek”]

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express my grave concern for imprisoned poet Aron Atabek.

According to PEN’s information, Aron Atabek has suffered regular beatings on the head and neck during his incarceration in Pavlodar prison, despite an absolute prohibition on the use of torture or other ill-treatment under international law. I join PEN in calling on the Kazakh authorities to protect Aron Atabek from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment, to investigate the reports that he has been beaten in detention, and to bring to justice anyone suspected of abuses as a matter of urgency.

Furthermore, according to the poet’s son, the prison authorities are continuing to deny Atabek adequate medical attention, despite his deteriorating health. Atabek suffers (or has suffered) from the following conditions: coronary artery disease, chronic gastritis, cerebral sclerosis, lumbar back pain, swollen knee joints and a pinched trigeminal nerve. Due to his back and knee problems, Atabek walks with great difficulty. I urge the Kazakh authorities to provide immediate medical care to Aron Atabek in compliance with the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which state that a prisoner complaining of ill health must be examined on a daily basis by a prison medical officer.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

Please let us know of any action you take by emailing cat@englishpen.org

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