The spokesman for the secretary general, Stéphane Dujarric, told journalists on Thursday in New York that the organization was continuing to follow the situation “very closely”.
Mr Dujarric confirmed several contacts between the United Nations and the country’s authorities, including a phone call Thursday morning between Special Envoy Natalia Gherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi.
During these talks, Ms. Gurman, on behalf of the Secretary General, reiterated the appeals to be restrained, to refrain from violence and to encourage dialogue in order to address the situation.
Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Central Asia, Natalia Gherman, by UN Photo / Kim Haughton Dozens of victims
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, also called on everyone, including security forces, demonstrators and others, to refrain from violence and to seek a peaceful solution.
In a statement, she said a police spokesman in the capital, Almaty, reported that security forces had killed dozens of demonstrators. In addition, almost 1,000 people are said to have been injured in the protests.
According to news outlets, the protests began on Sunday when the government lifted its price cap on liquefied petroleum gas, or liquefied natural gas, which many use in their cars and heating.
The Interior Ministry said 12 police officers were killed and 317 police officers and members of the National Guard were injured in the riot.
“International law is clear: people have the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. At the same time, demonstrators, no matter how angry or offended they may be, should not resort to violence against others, ”said Ms. Bachelet.
When clashes with protesters in Almaty, riot police are said to have used tear gas and stun grenades. At the same time, protesters seized some government buildings, set them on fire and tried to storm police stations.
Ms. Bachelet also pointed to reports that on January 6th, violent shootings between the military and armed persons broke out in front of Almaty City Hall.
The High Commissioner reminded the Kazakh authorities that violence must be used under strict requirements of necessity and proportionality.
The state of emergency declared on January 5th in several areas, including the capital Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan, has now been extended to the whole country.
The decision, including a curfew from 11pm to 7am, called for restrictions to remain in place until at least January 19.
Ms. Bachelet said states have the right to declare a state of emergency, but added that “any deviation from human rights is subject to strict requirements of necessity and proportionality”.
“Certain rights, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained, continue to apply in all circumstances,” she said.
The Kazakh authorities on Wednesday called for security forces to be deployed to the country under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional security pact that includes Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Kazakh officials also said that more than 2,000 people have been held in police custody.
Ms. Bachelet called for the release of all those arrested and detained who were detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. She stressed that all allegations of human rights violations should be “investigated quickly, independently and thoroughly”.
Internet services have been severely disrupted since Sunday, up to and including a complete shutdown.
For the High Commissioner, shutting down the internet is “not the answer to a crisis, but it risks fueling violence and unrest”.
She called on the authorities to ensure that internet services that are essential for emergency medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic are “restored immediately and completely”.
In the last few days the Kazakh government has announced that it hopes for an inclusive and constructive dialogue with demonstrators.
Ms. Bachelet said it is time now to “take all steps” to ensure that this dialogue takes place and that human rights are respected and protected during the state of emergency and beyond.