Unidentified military personnel fire their weapons in the center of Almaty on January 6. In video of this scene, the man at right appears to be signaling to stop shooting after a sustained burst of gunfire from the formation Image Source
Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for the crisis in Kazakhstan. For a comprehensive overview of Kazakhstan’s history please view the Kazakhstan Country Report.
On January 2, 2022, large crowds gathered to protest a dramatic increase in the price of government subsidized petroleum gas. Tens of thousands more soon came out across Kazakhstan, protesting not only the near doubling of gas prices, but also decades of autocratic rule and government corruption. The Kazakh military, police and government led by President Qasym Zhomart Toqeav, responded to these protests with shocking brutality.
After initially authorizing only use of tear gas and plastic batons, President Toqaev then issued a “shoot to kill” order against any protesters in the streets. As of January 7, 2022, security forces have killed dozens of people. Eighteen security officers are also reported dead. Police and soldiers have shot live bullets into crowds of protestors. Thousands more have been injured or detained.
At the request of Toqaev, a Russian-led “peacebuilding” force has intervened, with additional support and soldiers coming from Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Toqaev refers to the civilian protestors as “foreign-trained terrorists,” “bandits,” and “criminal gangs.” The head of the Kazakh National Police has called for the “liquidation” of protestors. Such dehumanizing, polarizing, and violent language is a warning sign of impending massacres.
Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has been ruled by the corrupt and authoritarian Nazarbayev regime. Toqaev is Nazarbayev's hand-picked successor. Arbitrary arrest, torture, and murder are frequently used to crush any dissent. In 2011, for example, sixteen striking workers in the oil town of Zhanaozen were murdered by the Kazakh police.
China, Russia, the United States, and European Union maintain heavy investments in Kazakhstan’s energy resources. They all benefit from the status quo and are reluctant to support human rights and popular democratization efforts in Kazakhstan.
Due to the Kazakh government's use of dehumanizing language and use of lethal force against protesters, as well as the introduction of Russian-led troops, Genocide Watch considers Kazakhstan to be at Stage 4: Dehumanization, Stage 7: Preparation, and Stage 8: Persecution.
Genocide Watch Recommends:
1. The United States and European Union should immediately embargo imports of Kazakh gas and oil, and condition resumption of imports on the end of violent Kazakh government suppression of protests.
2. Resumption of US and European oil and gas imports should also be conditioned on withdrawal of the Russian-led “peacebuilding” force from Kazakhstan.