The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights this 2018 is awarded to the Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, represented by Larisa Kharkova, Nurbek Kushakbaev and Amin Eleusinov.
Trade Union leaders and activists of Kazakhstan face severe repression in due to their involvement with trade unions rights, and the rights of the working people in their country.
As of today, Kushakbaev and Eleusinov are imprisoned, while Kharkova is living under great restrictions of civil liberties. A national court ruling has banned the confederation of independent trade unions (KNPRK), and unfair fines are a heavy burden for the three union activists.
– We will now put pressure on the government of Kazaksthan to drop all charges against union representatives and respect the right to form independent unions. The international union movement cannot stand idle while this injustice is being suffered by our friends in Kazaksthan, says Frode Alfheim, chair of the award committee.
The persecution of union leaders must be condemned
Union rights has been under immense pressure for years, and the authorities show little respect for the right to organize. The ruthless approach was above all illustrated in 2011 during a strike in the oil city Zhanaozen, where at least 14 workers were shot and killed by their law enforcement.
Despite these facts the authorities in Kazakhstan still have some success in polishing their international image. Kazaksthan is represented in the UN council of human rights and have received praise from the UN general secretary, as well as the former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
Chair of the committee Frode Alfheim now urges the world to look at the problem lying beneath the surface.
The authorities tries to tell a story that does not stand well against the harsh reality of the human rights situation in Kazakhstan. Underneath the surface, the country is violating basic human and labour rights. The lack of free speech, union rights and persecution of trade union leaders must be condemned, says Alfheim.
The full statement of the committee can be read here: