Kazakhstan: Aron Atabek held in Karagandy Detention Centre, still no contact with family

According to our colleagues at PEN International, imprisoned Kazakh poet Aron Atabek is now being held in a detention centre in Karagandy. It is believed that he has been moved there in order to attend the first hearing of his appeal against the two-year solitary confinement sentence that he received in November 2012

Following PEN’s communications with the Kazakh General Prosecutor’s Office, with Atabek’s family, and with a Kazakh journalist on the ground who has confirmed details of Atabek’s transfer with the head of the Karagandy prison system, we now know the following:

Aron Atabek was moved out of Arkalyk Prison on 5 October 2013. His family received no notice of the move from the Kazakh authorities, and Atabek – in a direct violation of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners – was not permitted to notify his family of the transfer.

Atabek is currently ‘between prisons’. He is being held in a Karagandy detention centre with other prisoners who have been charged (but not convicted), or who are waiting for their own appeal processes to begin.

Atabek is appealing for his two-year solitary confinement sentence (almost one year of which has already been served) to be quashed. If successful, he will be moved back into the general prison system. No date has been set for the first hearing of his appeal process.

Despite numerous attempts by Atabek’s son to find out the exact location of his father, the Penal System Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny Atabek’s presence in the Karagandy penal system.

Atabek’s family has not known the poet’s exact location since early October. They have still not received official notification of his whereabouts.

Although conditions in the Karagandy penal system are reportedly not as harsh as those in Arkalyk, it seems highly likely that the Kazakh authorities are continuing to deny Atabek access to telephone calls to his family.

To read our previous alert on Atabek’s case, please click here.

TAKE ACTION

  • Write to the Minister of Internal Affairs, urging him to immediately confirm Atabek’s whereabouts to his family and demanding that Atabek be allowed regular communication with his family;
  • Raise Aron Atabek’s case with your country’s ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Appeals to:

Minister of Internal Affairs
Kalmukhanbet Kassymov
Ministy of Internal Affairs
Tauelsizdik Avenue, 1
010000 Astana
Republic of Kazakhstan
Email: Kense@mvd.kz
Twitter: @MVD_RK

Dr Carolyn Browne
British Embassy Astana
62 Kosmonavtov Street
Renco Building 6 Floor
Astana 010000
Kazakhstan
Email ukinkz@fco.gov.uk
Fax +7 (7172) 556211

You may also wish to 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 is the first writer at risk to be featured in the brand new ‘Ambit Action’ initiative, 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”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, on behalf of imprisoned poet Aron Atabek.

According to PEN’s information, Aron Atabek was moved out of Arkalyk Prison on 5 October 2013. His family received no notice of the move from the Kazakh authorities, and Atabek – in a direct violation of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners – was not permitted to notify his family of the transfer.

Atabek is now understood to be ‘between prisons’;  he is believed to be being held in a Karagandy detention centre with other prisoners who have been charged (but not convicted), or who are waiting for their own appeal processes to begin.

Despite numerous attempts by Atabek’s son to find out the exact location of his father, the Penal System Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny Atabek’s presence in the Karagandy penal system. Atabek’s family has not known the poet’s exact location since early October, and they have still not received official notification of his whereabouts.

I am therefore writing to urge you to immmediately confirm Aron Atabek’s whereabouts to his family, as well as to ensure that he be allowed regular contact with them throughout his time in detention.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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