MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – Dozens of inmates at a prison in northwest Kazakhstan have reportedly slashed their bodies and waved banners from the roof of their prison to protest alleged abuses and seizure of contraband cell phones and TV sets.
“About 60 inmates cut themselves, climbed a building roof” at a prison in the city of Uralsk, Galymzhan Khasenov, a spokesman for Kazakhstan’s Penal Service, told the Tengrinews website Thursday.
The protest erupted Tuesday after a massive search and seizure of cell phones, sharp objects, makeshift water boilers, playing cards and two TV sets, the website said. Sixty two convicts used broken glass, tiles and nails to maim themselves during an obligatory morning line-up, Tengrinews said.
Some 30 prisoners climbed the prison roof Wednesday and unfurled a makeshift banner reading, “Help,” the Uralskaya Nedelya weekly reported and published photos of the convicts’ protest.
Local human rights advocate Pavel Kochetkov told the weekly he had met with some of the prisoners, who claimed they had been beaten up by prison guards and showed traces of beatings on their bodies.
Prison protests have become more common in Kazakhstan in recent years after an online video showing an inmate being beaten by a prison guard went viral in 2010, causing a public outcry, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.