Kazakhstan: security forces fire on striking oil workers

Kazakh interior ministry troops fired on striking workers in the Caspian Basin city Zhanaozen Dec. 16, leaving at least 10 dead. Scores were injured, and scores more detained. The violence came in a move to oust hundreds of striking workers from the square they had been occupying for six months to demand better wages and democratic reforms. The Kazakh prosecutor general called the protesters “hooligans” who tried to take weapons off police and torch installations of the Ozenmuinagaz oil company and government buildings as well as vehicles and ATMs. All communication to the city has been blocked, with Twitter and phone lines cut off.

The authorities announced plans to hold a state-sponsored New Year’s holiday party for children on the site, apparently in a ruse to provide an excuse to clear out the workers. Troops have also been sent to contain a solidarity protest in Aktau city. (RT TV, Moscow; AlJazeera via YouTube, BBC News, NYT, Dec. 16)

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