Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Markus Löning issued a statement in Berlin today (23 November) concerning the ban on the Kazakh newspaper “Golos Respubliki” (Voice of the Republic):
I am very concerned by the ban on Golos Respubliki. I have observed with deep concern the move by the Kazakh authorities to ban further newspapers, websites and Internet TV channels in an attempt to close down other independent media organizations.
A free society relies on free and independent reporting. Freedom of opinion and of the press are key pillars of democracy. Bans reflect an inadequate understanding of democracy, an inability to deal with criticism and fear of political debate. The intimidation of journalists and their families must stop immediately.
I urge the Kazakh authorities to lift the ban on Golos Respubliki without delay, to end the legal proceedings to ban other media outlets immediately and to guarantee freedom of opinion and of the press without any restrictions. In November, Kazakhstan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council from 2013. This places a special responsibility on Kazakhstan when it comes to human rights. Furthermore, Kazakhstan is a member of the OSCE and thus obliged to respect freedom of opinion and of the press.
The editorial office of Golos Respubliki announced the ban issued by a court in Almaty on Thursday. The court accused the newspaper of having supported protests by oil workers in the Kazakh province of Aktau, during which at least 17 people were killed in December 2011.
Many other media organizations in the Central Asian country are facing a possible ban on publication or any activities. During his visit to Kazakhstan in September 2012, the Human Rights Commissioner met journalists from Golos Respubliki on several occasions.