IndustriALL Global Union is calling for the immediate release of Kazakh trade union leader, Erlan Baltabay, after he was sentenced to seven years in prison by a Kazakh court on 17 July.
Baltabay, who is leader of the Industrial Trade Union of the Fuel and Energy workers union, was also handed a seven-year ban on conducting any public activity, such as trade union activities.
He is the fourth trade union leader to be criminally convicted or imprisoned in the last two years as the government of Kazakhstan continues its repression of independent trade unions in the country.
Baltabay was sentenced on bogus charges of misappropriation of funds in retaliation for his trade union activism and support for leaders of the dissolved Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (KNPRK). Larisa Kharkova, Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Kushakpaev from the KNPRK have also been punished and persecuted through the Kazakh courts.
Last month, the International Labour Conference, at its Committee on the Application of Standards, singled out and sanctioned Kazakhstan for its “persistent lack of progress” to address abuses of core labour standards related to freedom of association and the right to organize.
Kazakhstan has again been listed by the ITUC rights index as one of the top-ten workers’ rights oppressors in the world. While global civil society, including Human Rights Watch, has unequivocally condemned the unfair trial and persecution of Erlan Baltabay.
In a letter to the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:
“It is not too late for your government to redress this blatant violation of human rights and labour rights of Erlan Baltabay. Therefore, IndustriALL Global Union urges you to take the necessary immediate steps, in full accordance with international core labour standards, including Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and in strict agreement with the decisions of the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards, to stop the persecution of the independent trade union movement.”
Help free Erlan Batalby!
IndustriALL has teamed up with the ITUC for an online petition with LabourStart calling on the Kazakh authorities to free Erlan Baltabay and ensure freedom and safety for trade union activities in the country.