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Kazakh Poet Aron Atabek Out of Solitary Confinement; Still No Contact With Family

Tuesday 12 November 2013 - 12:00am

12 November 2013

The Kazakh poet Aron Atabek has recently had his solitary confinement sentence overturned by the Kostanai Prosecutor’s Office; he has been transferred back into his previous prison in Karazhal, Karagandy.

In November 2012, Atabek was sentenced to two years in solitary confinement for writing The Heart of Eurasia, a book that criticised Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Since August 2013, PEN has been campaigning to have Atabek removed from solitary confinement and placed in a prison within reasonable visiting distance of his family. We are very pleased that Atabek is no longer being held in isolation, but remain concerned that his family has still not had any contact with him.

A long list of PEN centres have taken action on Atabek’s behalf by lobbying their respective governments and ambassadors to Kazakhstan, by writing to the Kazakh authorities, by writing to Atabek and his family, and by publishing his poetry and publicising the case. We’d like to thank the following PEN centres for their contribution to our campaign for Aron Atabek.

PEN American Center
PEN Austria
Belgian Dutch-Speaking PEN
PEN Canada
Czech PEN
Danish PEN
English PEN
PEN Flanders
German PEN
German Speaking PEN Abroad
PEN Kenya
PEN Netherlands
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN Suisse Romand
Sydney PEN
PEN Center USA

However, we are very concerned that Atabek’s family has still not had any contact with him, and that the prison authorities have still yet to officially confirm the poet’s location to the family.


Write to the Minister of Internal Affairs, urging him to immediately confirm Atabek’s whereabouts to his family.
Demand that Atabek be allowed regular communication with his family.
Raise Aron Atabek’s case with your country’s ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Useful Addresses:

Minister of Internal Affairs
Kalmukhanbet Kassymov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Tauelsizdik Avenue, 1
010000 Astana
Republic of Kazakhstan
Twitter: @MVD_RK

You can find your country’s embassy in Kazakhstan here:

Further Information

For more details on Aron Atabek’s case and for an update on PEN’s activities on behalf of the imprisoned poet, please see:

Note to PEN Centres

Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Aron Atabek’s case, and especially of any response you receive.

For further details contact Cathal Sheerin at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER UK Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: