Theatre director and author Bolat Atabayev from Kazakhsatan arrested

Posted by Administrator (wb_admin) on 18/06/2012
cases >> Middle East

Bolat Atabayev is also an activist of the opposition movement "Halyk Maidany". Atabaev and Mamay are accused of alleged incitement of social discord which led to riots in Zhanaozen in December 2011. Both are are charged under Art. 164 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (incitement of social hatred.)

Bolat Atabayev is a major theatre figure in Kazakhstan. For over thirty years, the co-founder of the German Theatre in Almaty has trod an undaunted and perilous path within the Kazakh cultural landscape. In 1998 Bolat Atabayev was awarded the honorary title of “Artist of Merit of the Republic of Kazakhstan." Atabaev dealt with the fates of the German minority even in times when ethnic Germans were still a taboo subject in the Soviet Union. During his stays in Germany he made contacts that he still maintains today; for instance with the director of the Theater an der Ruhr Roberto Ciulli, playwright Volker Schmidt, and film director Volker Schlöndorff. In his artistic work he is an open, critical opponent of the prevailing circumstances, for example handling taboo themes such as the genocide of the Volga Germans in Kazakhstan in his plays. Until 2003 Atabayev was a lecturer at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts in Almaty and from 2004 until 2007 chief director of the Almaty German Theatre. Since 2005 he has been director and head of his own theatre “Aksarai,” which he founded together with his theatre students. Atabayev is presently working on a Brecht piece.

Atabayev had been invited this August to Weimar to receive the Goethe Medal recognising his merits for German-Kazakh theatre relations and as a courageous fighter for democratic structures. This distinction has been awarded since 1955 to 329 figures from 61 countries, including Daniel Barenboim, Billy Wilder, John Le Carré and Ariane Mnouchkine, for outstanding services for the German language and international cultural relations.

The "Open Dialogue" Foundation is deeply concerned about worsening of repression in Kazakhstan and appeal to the international civil community to start a campaign of support and solidarity with the detainees and send requests to the local embassy offices in Kazakhstan with the requirement to explain the reason of arrest of the Goethe Prize winner Bolat Atabaev and the leader of the youth movement "Rukh pen til”, Zhanbolat Mamay.

The German film director and Oscar prize winner Volker Schlöndorff calls in an open letter to the responsible judge Nariman Begaliev for release of Bolat Atabaev.

In the name of ITI the vice President of the German ITI centre and artistic director of Theater an der Ruhr Roberto Ciulli has also send a letter of protest to the judge.


Sources:  open dialog foundation:, Goethe Institute: About the awardee Bolat Atabaev

video on Bolat Atabayev's 60th birthday, and after his detention

Campaign Kazakhstan

Human Rights Commissioner of the German Foreign Office demands immediate freeing of Bolat Atabayev

Foreign Affairs Commission of the German Parliament protests

German artists committee to free Bolat Atabayev

Last changed: 03/07/2012 at 10:57

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