Kazakhstanis demand the release of Asiya Tulesova

Adamdar news DOCA Kazakhstan

Kazakhstanis demand the release of Asiya Tulesova

June 9, 2020

Almaty, Kazakhstan

On June 9, a group of public figures and civic organizations published a petition on Facebook and on the website of the human rights organization “Kadir-Kassiet”. In the petition, public figures, human rights activists, journalists, artists, representatives of civic organizations and other citizens demand the immediate release of Asiya Tulesova, a well-known environmental and human rights activist, from police custody. The petition addresses the arbitrariness of police detentions and the suppression of peaceful assemblies in Kazakhstan.

Sign the petition using your full name, profession and city in the online petition via this link.

Asiya Tulesova at the Police Department of the Medeu district of Almaty, June 6, 2020.
Photo: Timur Nusimbekov


Asiya Tulesova is an environmental and civic activist. She is the head of the Common Sense foundation and one of the founders of the environmental organization Almaty Urban Air (AUA). For several years she has been studying air pollution in Almaty and engages in activist work to solve environmental problems.

Tulesova is one of the participants in the art protest “You Can’t Run From the Truth”, which took place at the Almaty marathon on April 21, 2019, after which she was arrested and sentenced by a court to 15 days’ imprisonment. During the court hearing, Tulesova gave a heartfelt speech which was later quoted by the media. Activists also quoted her words on posters at protests at numerous events held in solidarity with Tulesova in Kazakhstan, Europe and the United States.

Participants of the protest “You Can’t Run From the Truth”: Aigul Nurbulatova, Beibarys Tolymbekov, Suinbike Suleimenova, Asiya Tulesova, April 2019
Photo: Timur Nusimbekov

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, peaceful protests were held in Kazakhstani cities, at which 53 people were detained, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The protesters were brutally detained, with unjustified physical force often used against them by the police. According to eyewitnesses, ordinary passers-by were placed in police vehicles along with protesters. In Almaty, Tulesova tried to defend peaceful civilians by one of these police vehicles, and for this she was detained. Several policemen took part in her detention, grabbing her and throwing her to the ground. Together with other detainees, she was taken to the Police Department of the Medeu District of Almaty, where she was detained for several hours. Upon her release, Tulesova remained at the police building and demanded the release of other illegally detained fellow citizens together with journalists and activists of the Oyan, Qazaqstan movement. Around 18:00, police officers forcibly brought Tulesova to the PD without giving reasons for detention. Later, according to Tulesova’s mother, she was taken to the outskirts of the city and released.

On the evening of June 8, Tulesova was summoned for questioning as a suspect in a criminal case under part 1 of Article 380 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan: “The use of violence that is not dangerous to life or health, or the threat of violence against a government official”. After the interrogation, she was sent to a temporary detention center, where she remains at present.

Asiya Tulesova at the Police Department of the Medeu district of Almaty, June 6, 2020.
Photo: Timur Nusimbekov

Full text of the petition:

An appeal to Tokaev from civil organizations on behalf of Asa Tulesova

To the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K. Tokaev

Mr. President,

We, representatives of civic organizations and public figures, are outraged by the tyrannical nature of the actions taken by the police in the country. There is no legal or logical explanation for their lawlessness!

Citizens who try to exercise their right to protest peacefully by taking to the streets and squares in various cities of our country are treated cruelly and humiliated. They are being detained using unjustifiable force. Peaceful, unresisting citizens, including women, are dragged by their hands and feet, special equipment is used against them, and special forces with full riot gear are summoned to commit brutal acts against them. In violation of the international obligations of the Republic of Kazakhstan on ensuring and protecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest, police forces are used to take citizens to police stations and to hold intimidating, threatening interrogations.

On June 6, 2020, human rights activist Asiya Tulesova, whose example is not at all unique, was arrested and detained for several hours in the Medeu District Police Department of Almaty. She was eventually taken to the outskirts of the city. With their actions, officials violated almost all necessary procedures in accordance with Article 788 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Impunity in law enforcement officials has become the norm, and it has been this way for a long time now. Not a single policeman was held responsible for the violation of guaranteed constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens during detention. The inequality before the law of police officers compared with ordinary citizens is obvious.

One moment the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan adopts the Standards of Policing, and the next, the police constantly and with impunity continue to violate the rights of citizens to gather in peaceful assemblies. They show disrespect for human dignity and the citizenry’s right to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment (Art. 7, 21 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan).

On June 6, 2020, several male police officers threw Asiya Tulesova to the ground, and she defended herself. What should a female human rights activist do when she is dragged and literally thrown to the ground by male police officers? Every person and woman, in particular, has the right to protection of personal integrity (Article 9 of the Covenant), and a female human rights activist has the right to protect human rights (Article 12 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders). Asiya exercised her right to protect the rights of other citizens, and the police used unnecessary and unjustified force against her. Tulesova’s emotional reaction, which did not result in any physical harm to the police, was provoked by their actions, which went against all common sense and logic.

In fact, for a long time, instead of engaging in respectful dialogue with citizens gathering for peaceful protest, local authorities, prosecutors, and police have escalated situations instead of de-escalating them. They carry out provocations and use force. They detain civilians by the dozens and by the hundreds and deliver them to police stations. They conduct brief court sessions, sometimes at night, sometimes directly on the police stations’ premises. From the point of view of international law and human rights standards, police officers in Kazakhstan behave with lawlessness and tyranny.

On the evening of June 08, 2020, A. Tulesova was summoned to the Almaty Police Department for interrogation and then detained.

Article 380 of Part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan classifies the alleged offense by Tulesova as a moderate offense (less than 5 years in prison). This does NOT entail the application of a preventive measure in the form of detention. The police had no legal basis to detain Asiya. In addition, her placement on June 8, 2020 in a temporary detention center at a police station flagrantly violated Part 4 of Article 128 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Kazakhstan, since she was not attempting to hide, has a permanent residence and her identity was established. Thus, the police arbitrarily deprived Asiya of her personal freedom in violation of article 9 of the Covenant. We can only assume that the police’s only motive is revenge on a human rights defender, and the goal is to punish her for her actions using the authorities and official powers.

We demand her immediate release from police custody!

We believe that in this situation the police will not be able to conduct an impartial investigation and thus demand that the case be transferred to the prosecutor according to part 3 of article 58 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

We demand an independent investigation of police actions during the dispersal of peaceful assemblies over the past few years.


Published: June 9, 2020