A public commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of Kazakhstan independence on Friday in the town of Zhanaozen, located in Mangystau Province just 60 kilometers from the shore of the Caspian Sea, turned into a violent police attack on striking oil workers. Government officials reported the deaths of 13 workers, but other sources claim over 70 people were killed and as many as 800 wounded.
Human rights organizations, Kazakhstan opposition groups and sources outside Kazakhstan report that security forces opened fire on the striking workers. Because of current restrictions on communications with the city, little verifiable information is available, but even officials acknowledge that hospitals in Zhanaozen are overflowing and the wounded are being evacuated to other cities. They also report 70 arrests, including three journalists from leading Russian news web sites.
In Mangystau Province, Kazakhstan’s principal oil-producing region, oil workers have been on strike since May in both Zhanaozen (at UzenMunayGas, a subsidiary of the Kazakhstan state-owned KazMunayGas) and Aktau (at KarazhanbasMunai, jointly owned by KazMunayGas and the Chinese state-owned CITIC Group). They are demanding that the companies comply with agreements to raise the workers’ wages.
Last January, workers at KarazhanbasMunai attempted to replace trade union leader Yerbosyn Kosarkhanov, who had been collaborating with the employer by agreeing to wage concessions behind the backs of the union membership. The company responded by sending hired thugs to beat several workers. Police have refused to investigate the incident.
Arm the workers & you won't have these kinds of bloody problems. None of that turn the other cheek stuff. That's what tyrants mobsters & oligarchs depend on.