As dissent grows, state of emergency in Kazakhstan | world | Hindustan Times
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As dissent grows, state of emergency in Kazakhstan

The President of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in a town in the western oil-producing region of the country, where striking workers and the police fought the day before, leaving at least 11 people dead.

world Updated: Dec 19, 2011 00:32 IST

The President of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in a town in the western oil-producing region of the country, where striking workers and the police fought the day before, leaving at least 11 people dead.

The nearly three-week state of emergency allows the authoritarian government to prohibit audio and video recording and establish a curfew in the town, Zhanaozen, and on Saturday human rights activists reported that the road into the town had been blocked by a checkpoint. Journalists trying to go there said their commercial flight had been canceled.

With cellphone coverage intermittent and Internet access in the area apparently blocked by the government, confusion swirled over the scale and causes of what could be the worst civil unrest in Kazakhstan, an oil-rich Central Asian nation, since independence was declared 20 years ago. Human rights groups and the government were presenting starkly different narratives of what happened.

NGOs and independent journalists said protesting workers were venting their rage at a government that had failed to solve a wage dispute involving a state-run employer.

The government, in contrast, has tried to cast the protesters as “hooligans,” possibly financed from outside the country.