Kazakhstan: Aron Atabek transferred to unknown prison

English PEN shares PEN International’s serious concern at the news that the poet and social activist Aron Atabek has been transferred from a high security prison in the city of Arkalyk to another – as yet unknown – prison.

In 2012, Atabek was sentenced to serve two years in solitary confinement in Arkalyk Prison following the publication of his book, The Heart of Eurasia, a work that is highly critical of the Kazakh government. Since August 2013, PEN has been campaigning for Atabak to be removed from solitary confinement and placed in a prison within reasonable visiting distance of his family.

In early October 2013, Atabek’s family received an anonymous telephone call informing them that the poet was to be transferred to Karazhal Prison in the Kargandy region. The family say that they did not receive any communication from Atabek or from the prison authorities regarding this move.

Since receiving the anonymous telephone call, Atabek’s son has made several attempts to discover the whereabouts of his father. He has contacted the prison administration numerous times, asking for confirmation that Atabek is now being held in Karazhal Prison. However, on each occasion, the prison authorities have refused to give him this information.

We understand that the prison administration was recently contacted by a local Kazakh human rights organisation, and that it was confirmed that Atabek left Arkalyk Prison on 5 October 2013. However, details of his current whereabouts were withheld. Atabek’s family are very worried.

The United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted in 1955 by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, clearly states that every prisoner must have the right to inform their family at once of their imprisonment or transfer within the prison system. Kazakhstan has clearly violated this rule by denying Atabek the opportunity to inform his family of his transfer.

TAKE ACTION

· Write to the Minister of Internal Affairs, urging him to immediately release details of Aron Atabek’s whereabouts to his family. Scroll down for a sample letter of appeal.

· Raise these new and worrying developments in 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

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.

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.

In 2012, Aron Atabek was sentenced to serve two years in solitary confinement in Arkalyk Prison following the publication of his book, The Heart of Eurasia, a work that is highly critical of the Kazakh government. PEN has been campaigning for Atabak to be removed from solitary confinement and placed in a prison within reasonable visiting distance of his family.

In early October 2013, Atabek’s family received an anonymous telephone call informing them that the poet was to be transferred to Karazhal Prison in the Kargandy region. The family say that they did not receive any communication from Atabek or from the prison authorities regarding this move. Atabek’s son has made several attempts to discover the whereabouts of his father since, and has contacted the prison administration numerous times, asking for confirmation that Atabek is now being held in Karazhal Prison. However, on each occasion, the prison authorities have refused to give him this information. Atabek’s family are understandably very worried.

I am therefore writing to respectfully urge you to immmediately release details of Aron Atabek’s whereabouts to his family, in accordance with the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which states that every prisoner must have the right to inform their family at once of their imprisonment or transfer within the prison system.

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 →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *