Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement today (5 July) on the release of Kazakh theatre director Bolat Atabayev:
“I am very pleased that Bolat Atabayev was released from prison the day before yesterday. The Kazakh authorities have obviously listened to the appeals by the international community and also by the German government. They have taken an important step.
As a member of the OSCE, Kazakhstan has committed itself to democratic principles. The government and the judiciary must protect citizens’ rights. I call on them to fully guarantee freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly in particular.
I very much hope that Bolat Atabayev will now be able to travel to Weimar to receive the Goethe Medal in person on 28 August 2012.”
On 3 July 2012, Kazakh theatre director Bolat Atabayev was released from prison. He had been arrested on 15 June 2012 after being under investigation since January for “inciting social unrest”. He was accused of delivering a public speech in the western Kazakh city of Zhanaozen on 16 December 2011 just before violent clashes broke out in connection with an oil-workers’ strike.
Representatives from the fields of politics and culture in Germany were greatly concerned about his arrest, which occasioned numerous appeals to Kazakh authorities for his immediate release.
During his many years as the artistic director of the German Theatre in Almaty, Bolat Atabayev has done an outstanding service to German Kazakh cultural relations. On 28 August 2012, he is to be awarded the Goethe Institut’s Goethe Medal in Weimar.