Torture Allegations Abound in Kazakhstan
Throughout the 1930s-40s, prisoners in Soviet gulags were forced to endure hard labor, torture, and starvation, among other atrocities. According to a new BBC video, while more than 70 years have passed, some of these Soviet gulags are still run as prisons in present-day Kazakhstan with very similar conditions. One such prison is penal colony AK159\7, which is reputedly one of the worst camps in the country.
Some of the prisoners who were lucky enough to leave the colony with their lives comment on their time there. One prisoner says he was forced to stand for days in a hole with jagged walls, preventing any rest at all, and received no food. Another man tells of his brother, who, upon arriving at the prison, was beaten so badly by guards that 31 of his bones were broken. He died in the camp. These are not isolated events. In this year alone, there have been over 200 complaints of torture throughout the country.
Officials in Astana, the nation’s capital, deny these accusations. They state they have signed over 60 international agreements on human rights, and that one of their goals is to separate themselves from their Soviet past through continued work on human rights. While these goals are laudable, there is no doubt that prisoners would deny that they are being achieved.
To sign a petition calling for the end of the use of torture in Kazakhstan, click here.