On 15 October 2015, the Almaly district court for the city of Almaty issued a judgement placing Yermek Narymbayev and Serikzhan Mambetalin under arrest for a period of two months. The Appeal collegium of the Almaty city court upheld the judgement of the court of first instance. The civil society activists are being accused of disseminating information instigating inter-ethnic hostility through social networks.
Having reviewed the case, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR) considers that the initiation of a criminal case and consequent arrest of Mr. Yermek Narymbayev and Mr. Serikzhan Mambetalin are politically motivated.
KIBHR sees that the initiation of a criminal case against and arrest of the civil society activists as being some sort of a preventative action aimed at defusing the degree of criticism of the Kazakh authorities in the social media. Arresting some of the most vocal critics of the authorities active on Facebook looks like the regime’s backlash against their civil activity, which has been about criticizing and opposing the authorities in social networks. To rephrase it, it looks very much like political repression against those who disagree.
KIBHR considers the accusations against the activists are trumped up. Reprinting a quote from a book authored by some individual who has no relevance, a book that is openly accessible on the Internet, is simply a pretext to accuse them under the old and tried Article 174 of the Kazakh Criminal Code, “Instigating social, national, tribal, racial, class or religious hostility.” However, KIBHR does not see any legal grounds to accuse Mr. Narymbayev and Mr. Mambetalin of disseminating information that promotes inter-ethnic hostility or disparages national honour and dignity. It is KIBHR’s opinion that during the trial that has resulted in the order arresting the aforementioned individuals, the investigation has failed to provide compelling evidence proving that Mr. Y. Narymbayev and Mr. S. Mambetalin did in fact have any relation to the publication in question, or that they did, in fact, promote the instigation of inter-ethnic hostility and disparagement of national honour.
Accordingly, KIBHR strongly condemns the actions of Kazakh law-enforcement authorities that have advanced legally unconvincing accusations, as well as the actions of the court that condoned those unlawful actions. KIBHR considers this case to be a politically motivated witch-hunting against those who disagree with the official line in Kazakhstan, and demands that both Mr. Narymbayev and Mr. Mambetalin, civil society activists, be freed immediately.