2018 Kazakhstan: Aron Atabek

WORLD POETRY DAY 2018: Aron Atabek is a prominent Kazakh poet, journalist and dissident. He has been in prison for over 10 years, including frequent periods in punitive confinement in extremely harsh conditions. Norwegian PEN Writers In Prison Committee calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Aron Atabek and, in the meantime, for him to be moved to a prison within visiting distance of his family and to be allowed regular visits, telephone calls, correspondence, and access to writing materials.

President of Kazakhstan
President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Government House
Mangilik Yel st. 6
010000 Astana City
Oslo 21st of March 2018

Your Excellency,

Norwegian PEN is urgently concerned about the welfare of poet, journalist and dissident Aron Atabek, who has been imprisoned since 2007. Atabek was charged with organisation of mass disorder in 2007, but maintains his innocence.

Whilst in prison Atabek has suffered several periods of solitary confinement, denial of access to natural light and writing materials. Severe restrictions have also been placed on his contact with his family and on any communication with the outside world. Since 2013 Atabek has been kept in a prison located over 1000 km away from his family.

Prolonged bouts of solitary confinement are prohibited under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by which Kazakhstan is bound. In denying Atabek visits from his family and regular correspondence with them, Kazakhstan is also violating the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules).

Norwegian PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Aron Atabek. In the unwanted case of any delays to his release, we call for his transferal to a prison within visiting distance of his family, and for him to be given access to regular visits, telephone calls, correspondence and necessary writing materials.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Johanne Fronth-Nygren
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

Diplomatic Mission of the Republic of Kazakstan in Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs