Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The killing of protesting oil workers last month by Kazakh security forces is drawing scrutiny from a European security organization that has offered to help the Central Asian’s police investigate the incident.
“I’m certainly very concerned about the outbreak of violence that took place in western Kazakhstan and resulted in a loss of life,” Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said today at a press conference in Vienna. Ireland holds the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s rotating chairmanship in 2012.
Kazakhstan, which held the OSCE chairmanship in 2010, started a criminal probe over the use of force by police during unrest in Zhanaozen, where at least 16 people died in a mass riot on Dec. 16. Authorities have arrested 18 people suspected of involvement in the violence that also left more than 100 people injured.
The 56-nation OSCE, which monitors the human rights conduct of its members, is in “initial” talks with the Kazakh government to determine whether it can embed observers with police conducting the investigation, Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said today in Vienna.
“Something we’re now exploring is whether we can work with the Kazakh police,” Zannier said. We can “look at what happened and improve the situation on the ground.”
Oil workers at state-run KazMunaiGas Exploration Production in Zhanaozen rioted after disputes over wages and job losses. Unrest in the Mangistau region, bordering the Caspian Sea in western Kazakhstan, spread after police used firearms to suppress the riots, with one person killed in the nearby town of Shetpe on Dec. 17 and protesters rallying in the regional capital of Aktau.
--Editors: Leon Mangasarian, Zoe Schneeweiss.
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