NUR-SULTAN — Dozens of Kazakh women have gathered in the headquarters of the ruling Nur-Otan party demanding increased social allowances three days after another family lost several children in a fire as their parents were out of the apartment.
On February 22, the women demanded government housing for families with multiple children, a fourfold increase of social allowances for children, and a halt in the persecution of women who have picketed and rallied for the cause.
On February 19, five children were killed when a fire broke out in a five-story residential building in the town of Zhanatas. The father was at work at the time of the blaze while the mother had left the house to buy food at a shop.
“What happened in Zhambyl is another tragedy. Some officials we heard criticizing the poor children’s parents for what happened. It’s wrong. Children are dying in fires and other incidents across the country. And that is not the parents’ fault. They simply are surviving and very often must leave their children alone in homes. If the government increased financial allowances to support children, things like that would not have happened,” one of the protesting women Zhumaghyz Kokeshova said.
In February 2019, another fire in a small house near Nur-Sultan killed five children from the same family when both parents were at work on night shifts.
That deadly fire also sparked waves of protests across the Central Asian nation, with people demanding increased social support and financial allowances for families with several children and low incomes.
The women on February 22 demanded lawmakers representing Nur-Otan in parliament to meet with them, chanting “Lawmakers! Come Out!”
They also sought the immediate release of Feruza Sapar, who they say was detained over the weekend after police stopped some of the women when they tried to reach Zhanatas to meet the family after its tragedy.
When party officials invited them to a congress hall in the building but warned that journalists would be barred, the women refused and continued their protest in the main hall of the headquarters.
Daulet Karibek, the deputy chairman of Nur-Otan’s branch in Nur-Sultan, advised the women to go to another building in the city where, according to him, the party could handle their complaints in written form.
The women rejected the suggestion, saying that they had written “tons of complaints already, but there have been no results.”