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Statement of the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan in relation to the disruption of the Informal Youth Conference «ZhasCamp» in Atyrau and Pavlodar

The Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan (SFK) expresses its deep concern over the disruption of the Informal Youth Conference “ZhasCamp” on October 15, 2016 in Atyrau and October 22, 2016 in Pavlodar.

Despite the preliminary arrangements and confirmations, the organizers have got last-minute decisions on denial of premises in both cities.

In Atyrau the «ZhasCamp» has been wrapped up ahead of schedule following notification from the hotel administration to vacate its premises. The Pavlodar State University named after S. Toraigyrov has refused to provide training rooms the night before the conference which led to the cancellation of the “ZhasCamp” in Pavlodar. In both cities, the “ZhasCamp” organizers were repeatedly refused venues in their search for alternative premises.

The Youth Informal Conference “ZhasCamp” devoted to the social youth initiatives has been held by the Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan since 2010 with support from the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan and other partners, including the OSCE Program Office in Astana and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Kazakhstan. Dozens of successful social projects across the country have been implemented as a result of previous «ZhasCamp» Conferences.

Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan calls upon the local public authorities of Atyrau and Pavlodar regions to comment on the incidents and to express their position on further cooperation with civil society organizations towards greater civic engagement of young people in our country.