Unrest in Kazakhstan has led to over 164 casualties, including a girl of 4 since the first day protests started. The week’s demonstrations have been marked as the worst the country has seen since its 30-year independence history. The first demonstrations started on January 2, 2022, due to a stark rise in fuel prices which then led to nationwide unrest on all of the citizenry’s grievances against the corrupt authoritarian government.
By January 6, the Russian-led security alliance had sent thousands of their troops within the region at the president’s request, further fueling up the protests.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, president of the former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan, shared that order has been restored in the western part of the country with the law enforcers gaining back control of the government buildings that were overtaken by protesters. Tokayev is getting criticism however for his handling of the scenario as he ordered shoot-to-kill for the enforcers on Friday, giving all military and police personnel the authority to shoot people to restore order.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken went ahead to condemn the order saying it was “something I resolutely reject.”
“The shoot-to-kill order, to the extent it exists, is wrong and should be rescinded,” said Blinken on ABC’s ‘This Week‘, adding, “And Kazakhstan has the ability to maintain law and order, to defend the institutions of the state, but to do so in a way that respects the rights of peaceful protesters and also addresses the concerns that they’ve raised – economic concerns, some political concerns.”
Kazakhstan left the Soviet Union in 1991 and since then the same party has been ruling the country, with continuous economic hardship. Several attempts at questioning the corruption and poverty in the country have been dealt with repression.
So far from the 164 people dead, it is unclear whether all of them were civilians or it includes the count for law enforcer casualties as well. Previously the health ministry recorded that 16 police or national guard members had died during the protests. A total of 5,800 people have been detained, with 2,200 injured from an earlier report. 1,300 out of those injured were security officers. The capital of Almaty alone had 103 deaths, with 3 of them being minors, including a 4-year-old girl, according to the ombudswoman for children’s rights in Kazakhstan.