(Prague, Czech Republic--June 6, 2008) Thanks to international pressure on the government of Kazakhstan, a seven-week blockage of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kazakh-language website (www.azattyq.org
) has come to an end. Following interventions by the US Department of State, the US Congress, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and numerous nongovernmental human rights and press advocacy organizations, people inside Kazakhstan can access the RFE/RL website for the first time since April 11.
"We're pleased that the website is now available, and we're very impressed by the support shown by the international community for freedom of information and media rights in Kazakhstan," says RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin. "We never did get a reply or an explanation about the service disruption from the Kazakh government. Without a doubt, it was the international response that made the difference."
Service was also restored to RFE/RL's English language website (www.rferl.org
) in Kazakhstan and RFE/RL websites in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan - all of which use KazTelecom as their Internet service provider.
The blockage has generated particular concern due to Kazakhstan's assumption of the OSCE presidency in 2010. The Vienna-based human rights monitoring body raised the problem of the RFE/RL website in a letter to Kazakh Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin, noting that "interference in providing [Internet] service would violate Kazakhstan's press freedom commitments, including the obligation to take action to ensure that the Internet remains an open and public forum for freedom of opinion and expression."
RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, operating from Prague and Almaty, broadcasts eight hours of Kazakh-language programming daily via satellite, shortwave, state-owned AM and the Internet at www.azattyq.org
. English-language news about Kazakhstan is available at www.rferl.org