New Zealand ‘Shanyrak’

Shanyrak symbol of home. Symbol of the Universe

for Lesley Marshall
and PEN-New-Zealand

There is an empty chair in New Zealand –
Kept for me on writers’ congress,
That is the God to turn me –
Back to an ‘environment’, to a writer’s place!

Writer is an armchair worm –
Gnawing science tomes,
Only sometimes he affects –
Having published poems and novels.

And Life, seems to be passing by,
Writer – the life’s contemplator,
Yet he is present invisibly,
On the stricken filed with us.

Writer, he is the THRID EYE –
And he sees through distance,
And contemplates the “SHANYRAK” –
And us, the fighters on the stricken field.

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Aron Atabek writes Lesley Marshall and PEN-New-Zealand

Dear Mr. Marshall

Thank you for your letters of solidarity and support. I received them recently, although according to the stamp they were delivered to Pavlodar in June 2014. What to do – there is a CENSORSHIP in prison and not every letter can pass trough. Keep in touch with my son – Askar AIDARKHAN. His English is pretty well, and he will forward your letters to me translated. Alas, I do not speak English.
As you can imagine, fighting against DICTATORSHIP requires sacrifice. We (I and six political-prisoners in Kazakhstan) – we are going along a sacrificial path to create DEMOCRACY and SOCIAL-JUSTICE in Kazakhstan. And if New Zealand PEN supports us – that gives us STRENGTH in STRUGGLE.
As a sign of my sincere gratitude and respect please accept a POEM.

for Lesley Marshall
and PEN-New-Zealand

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Call to Kazakh authorities: free Aron Atabek

Aron Atabek, dissident since USSR, poet, political prisoner imprisoned since 2006, who have served more than 8 years including 5 years in solitary confinement in punishment cells. He had been convicted for 2 years twice (in 2010 and 2012) and was sent to one of the most strict prisons in Kazakhstan – the prison of Arkalyk.

He had protected the rights of inhabitants of micro-districts Shanyrak, Bakai and others. Bakai was totally wiped out, while Shanyrak exists today. On the photos (on the screen) you can see he had been already injured in the leg, beaten by the police squads both in Bakai and Shanyrak.

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New Zealand PEN Member writes Atabek

Dear Aron Atabek,

I’m a freelance editor from New Zealand and today I wrote protest letters to the Kazakhstan authorities on your behalf — as I’ve done before. I sincerely hope they listen this time. New Zealand is half a world away from your country but we still care about you down here. I heard recently that one of our Society of Authors branch meetings had an empty chair for you, which I thought was lovely.

It’s winter here, and cold, but we’re still subtropical so we never get snow, though further south there’s lots of it. Our ski fields are busy because it’s holidays here for all our schools. I teach at a local school, and also several papers at a local polytechnic on editing. The holidays are great — I catch up on the pile of manuscripts, and also spend more time with the various grand children. Last weekend several of my kids and their families came for the weekend so we had a house full. It was lovely — with others calling in we ended up with over 20 for breakfast. I hope things improve for soon, and never doubt there are people around the world thinking of you and wishing you well.

Lesley Marshall.


Dear Aron Atabek,

I have once again written to the authorities on your behalf, protesting about how far you are from your family and asking for medical help and a cane for you. I am so sorry to hear you are still in prison and poorly treated and I hope things changes soon.

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Call to Action: Kazakhstan – ill Poet Beaten in Prison

15 July 2014 – Update No 8 to call to action of 5 August 2013

PEN International is deeply concerned at reports that the imprisoned poet Aron Atabek – who is in ill health – has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated by prison guards. According to the poet’s son, Atabek has suffered regular beatings on the head and neck during his incarceration in Pavlodar prison. There is an absolute prohibition on the use of torture or other ill-treatment under international law. PEN International calls on the Kazakh authorities to protect Aron Atabek from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment, to investigate the reports that he has been beaten while in detention, to bring to justice anyone suspected of abuses, and to provide him with appropriate medical care for his ailments.

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