Police of Almaty announced January 20 about the discovery of “secret burial places of militants who took part in the riots.” Saltanat Azirbek, an official representative of the police department, said that burials in these graves were made “so that the rioters could not be identified.” “The number and places of burials are of operational interest and are not subject to disclosure,” she stressed.
Kazakh and foreign human rights activists have repeatedly called on the Kazakh authorities to provide a complete picture of the victims of the January events among the civilian population. On January 15, the Prosecutor General’s Office said that at least 225 people had died in riots across the country. In Almaty, according to police, 149 civilians were killed. But the authorities do not disclose how many of the dead were killed by robbers, and how many by security forces who accidentally or illegally used weapons. Also, the authorities do not disclose how many “marauders” the security forces shot directly at the time of the crime. Meanwhile, human rights activists and journalists have collected information about several dozen dead and wounded who did not take part in the protests and did not commit crimes, but became accidental victims.
Relatives of the victims of the January events also said that in the morgues they were not given the bodies of the victims and were not even allowed to take them from the place where the person died. According to their stories, some bodies in Almaty and other cities lay on the streets for several days: the military simply did not allow them to be approached.
The family of the deceased 30-year-old Ruslanbek Zhubanazarov from Aktobe also told reporters that they were not given the body of her son for several days. The authorities announced that he was a “terrorist” and demanded that he be buried in an unmarked mass grave as a homeless man. The description of this grave is very similar to the one reported by the Almaty police.
“The police officer, who introduced himself as Berik Bisekenov, said: “Zhubanazarov is a terrorist. The body is not released. Go home! Otherwise, we will shoot you. We have an order to shoot at anyone who does not obey,” said Zhainagul Burkitkyzy, Ruslanbek’s mother.
Morgue employees, according to her, refused to hand over the body, referring to a letter from the investigator of the police department No. 1 of the Astana district A. Myrzagulov, in which it was written: “After the examination, the body will be handed over to the head of housing and communal services A. Tankiev.” It is Tankiev who, according to his position, is engaged in the funeral in Aktobe of people who have neither relatives nor a permanent place of residence: they are buried in a common grave in the form of a trench, the journalists emphasize.
According to eyewitnesses, the largest number of accidental victims in Almaty was on Thursday, January 6, when a mass peaceful rally was held on the square. But in the evening, people in military uniforms came to him and opened fire with live bullets – at peaceful protesters and bystanders.
The authorities do not confirm the shootings of protesters in Almaty and other cities, but they emphasize that an “anti-terrorist operation” was officially underway in Kazakhstan at that moment. The next day, January 7, Kazakh President Tokayev officially ordered the security forces to shoot to kill. After that, the authorities began to talk about those killed and wounded during the January events only about “terrorists” and “marauders”, not mentioning in a word either the participants in peaceful protests or the victims of accidental shots.