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Women’s Human Rights Defender Faces Imprisonment in Kazakhstan

Equality Now Statement of Support for Dina Smailova

Equality Now would like to extend our support for Dina Smailova, a human rights activist from Kazakhstan and the head of the NeMolchi (Do Not be Silent) Foundation. We have collaborated with her on various matters aimed at addressing sexual violence.

We are concerned about the challenging circumstances Dina currently faces: she was compelled to leave Kazakhstan for Georgia in April 2021 due to mounting pressure and criminal charges of fraud instituted by authorities in Kazakhstan. In September 2023, she was also denied entry from Georgia at the border after a trip to Turkey. 

Presently, Dina is seeking asylum in a third country after being deported from Georgia. This matter is currently pending. The Kazakh court issued an arrest warrant for Smailova in her absentia on December 27, 2023. She faces the possibility of being jailed in Kazakhstan for ten years for alleged charges of fraud and other related offenses. The prosecutor released the decision to put her on the international wanted list. 

“Me and my foundation are being prosecuted for our activity, zero tolerance to violence, and the fight for women’s equality. The prosecution against me and the other civil activists in Kazakhstan is politically motivated,” underlines Dina.  

“Human rights activists in Kazakhstan warn me that the authorities can use all methods, including elimination and kidnapping, since the criminal case is fabricated and they have no legal methods to imprison me,” emphasized Dina during an online conference with her lawyers, colleagues, violence survivors and human rights defenders from Kazakhstan on Jan 16, 2024.

It is crucial to underscore the importance of safeguarding human rights defenders, whose efforts to combat sexual violence have often made them vulnerable to persecution. 

This is not the first case when Dina faces the authorities’ pressure and charges in Kazakhstan. She won the defamation case against her in 2020 after litigating the high-profile “Talgo” rape case. NeMolchi has recently lost access to its local bank accounts, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan reported six cases against Dina.  

We strongly encourage the relevant authorities to exercise due diligence and conduct a thorough examination of Dina Smailova’s asylum request.

We call upon the relevant authorities not to initiate any deportation procedures until a careful and fair assessment of her asylum request has been conducted. 

Dina Smailova, survivor of gang rape, decided to break her silence 25 years after the attack and founded NeMolchi together with her husband Almat in 2016 to help other survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Kazakhstan. Because of her successful campaign against violence, in 2017, she was nominated to participate in the UN Women’s Global Goals World Cup.

Since 2017, as a result of the work of the NeMolchi Team in Kazakhstan:

  • More than 35,000 consultations on sexual violence were conducted via the hotline
  • More than 2,500 survivors of domestic and sexual violence were represented at the court
  • 240 rapists were convicted 
  • Ten police officers were held accountable for negligence and inaction
  • More than 200 law enforcement employees received disciplinary sanctions 
  • The Instagram page of NeMolchi has more than 150 000 followers 
  • Dina (under the nickname Dina Tansari) has more than 45 000 followers on her personal Instagram page