Kazakhstan: Social media crackdown suffocates freedom of expression online
The Kazakhstani authorities are using increasingly elaborate and aggressive methods to stamp out dissenting voices on the internet and social media, Amnesty International said in a briefing..
The authorities use recently adopted legislative powers to shut down or block access to particular websites, and deploy administrative and criminal sanctions to target individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“The independent media in Kazakhstan has been all but strangled, but the internet remained relatively free of government control until now. Not anymore,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
Human rights defenders Maks Bokaev and Talgat Ayan were detained in May 2016 after posting information about peaceful anti-government protests. They were sentenced to five years in prison each after being charged with “incitement of discord” and other undefined “crimes” on 28 November 2016. Amnesty International considers both men to be prisoners of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“Kazakhstani authorities should abort this unprecedented crackdown on social media. Human rights activists must be allowed to safely and freely use social media and the internet to raise awareness and prompt critical discussions,” said Denis Krivosheev.