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Statement on the unrest in Kazakhstan

The Writers for Peace Committee of PEN International is viewing with concern the unrest in Kazakhstan and the measures being taken by the government to quell the protest. While violence on either side, by protestors or the authorities, helps no-one, there are clearly legitimate social and policy concerns in the nation that need to be addressed. We stress that it is at exactly these times, when solutions are complicated and difficult, that the free flow of ideas and accurate information can provide a way forward.

Kazakhstan hosted an international PEN meeting about literature, in Almaty, less than four years ago, signalling a readiness to embrace the need for freedom of expression and the realisation that writers, even when highly critical, are contributors to a healthy discourse about a nation's history and future. We look to current leaders to hold to that realisation and not to be tempted to opt for a return to repression - as has been seen so tragically in Belarus, Myanmar, Russia and China.

The Writers for Peace Committee knows that Kazakhstan is a pivotal country for the stability of Central Asia and urges the government and regional powers to act with understanding, restraint and imagination. We are certain that writers are ready to help national recovery and international dialogue.


The President and Vice-Presidents,

Writers for Peace Committee

January 2022