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Conscripts’ Rights Discrimination in Kazakhstani Army


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Conscripts’ Rights Discrimination in Kazakhstani Army Turmaganbetov Azat ID 20122082 Academic Reading and Writing II (Section 2) Fall 2013

The research was conducted with a purpose to investigate and analyze the reasons of rights’ violation that conscripts face with in the army. Rising number of rights’ discrimination accidents causes the importance of the topic. The research included two interviews conducted with two man who are directly related to the army and conscripts’ rights violation and was conducted a survey among two different group of people as primary research and reading related academic articles as secondary research. The research revealed several problems such as physical violence, abuse of authority, helplessness and fear of punishment and possible ways to solve this problem that were found from the secondary research and some ways that were offered by the primary research participants.

Reasons of conscripts’ rights discrimination in Kazakhstani army
To date, the Kazakhstani army is experiencing a deep crisis. During recent years, a number of questions have been raised regarding the horrifying accidents that took place in Kazakhstani army. The main issue of those accidents is conscripts’ rights discrimination. It is a fact that Kazakhstani army has an experience of human rights’ violation and press makes publicized all sorts of events taking place in our army. Actually, it is important to know reasons of conscripts’ rights violation in the army because it is an issue of human rights. In addition, it is an issue of nation’s health. Knowing the causes of the problem, it can be found possible ways to fix them. Although Kazakhstani government often mentioned that they are work on current issue, we are witnessing that the results do not resolve this problem.
Most of the young men who have experience of serving in the army say that they had no expectations about their future life and they were pleasantly surprised about fact of rights violation. There is a variety of sections in Kazakhstani army; they are air defense forces, naval forces, airmobile troops, missile troops with artillery and presidential Guards. Moreover, all of these sections has a real fact of infringement except presidential Guards section.
Another problem is that all these discriminations make certain impact on conscripts, which in turn negatively effect on their performance. Therefore, it is important to create an army, which will be able to protect citizens and be prepared for a sudden response to military conflict. Moreover, growing number of conscripts’ rights violation will degrade the quality of army that in our situation is completely unacceptable. In addition, conscripts’ rights discrimination will decrease number of people entering the contract service, which also a big problem because for more than 30% of all conscripts army is the only way to make money.
Issue that often been raised is irregularity of process when agency of selection call conscripts. There is a Military Code where clearly written about rules that this agency must follow. However, mostly they ignore them. For instance, they call people to army who have a document that allow to skip the army or to get a postponement due to health problem, and in case of failure, you can be taken in prison. Moreover, the Minister of Defense issued a bill where he asked to narrow a list of health diseases that allow people to skip the army. If president will sign it this law will get validity. In addition, people with some diseases who were selected cannot get qualified help particularly in the army.

Literature review
Army is one of the most important parts of any modern and independent country because it is in the interests of politics and security of the citizens of the republic. The constitution designate that every male citizen under the age of 27 years, that has a medical certificate of suitability have to serve in the army. Performance of serving in the army should take place within the framework of the law. Due to the fact that soldiers serve in a specific military ground that is usually located out of the town or even in another part of country it is important to know that conscripts will be provided with protection. Today we have a problem of conscripts’ rights violation in the army. Investigating this issue can reveal several important problems, solutions for which will help conscripts to escape of such “negative” experience.
I found eight articles and all of them are interconnected in sense of common issue – conscripts’ right violation. Cathy Smith reveals this issue in the article “Violations of Human Rights in the Russian Military”. Article contains information about deaths and other cases that took place in Russia and got publicity in the press and media. The research that was made by Cathy Smith shows that in 2005, an estimated 450 deaths were caused by injuries due to internal military violence. The degradation inflicted on Russian soldiers within their regime necessitates reformation by the government and implementation of resolutions. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian military has been experiencing heightened levels of personnel decline despite the compulsory draft (Smith, 2010).
Author mentioned that prestige that the Soviet Army of the 1950s received through the late 1980s is dwindling rapidly. Despite the military code of conduct, today’s army is afflicted with perpetual violations of human rights. For the future of the Russian military, extensive action must include systemic reconstruction (Smith, 2010). If modifications fail to be put in place, the system will continue to facilitate massive human rights abuses that will affect the efficacy of the military (Smith, 2010).
As I found in the article written by Cathy Smith daily life for first year conscripts in the Russian army consists of menial and degrading tasks. There are explicit distinctions within the military between ranks; the second year soldiers, known as “Dedy,” have absolute authority over first year conscripts, a status which promotes the frequent usage of hazing; unfortunately, reprimands are seldom. Moreover, food distribution is imbalanced, and the rations given are often insect infested, spoiled, or nutrient deficient. Medical access is lacking and, when available, most first year soldiers are denied adequate care or are punished for seeking assistance. The lack of attention given to sanitation is illustrated by poor living conditions and insufficient time for cleansing especially for first year conscripts. Often labor is enforced throughout the night, which causes chronic sleep deprivation. The fear and terror that exist within the ranks has perpetrated a rise in fleeing soldiers and suicide rates. Despite the military code of conduct, which emphasizes justice, fairness, and equal rights for all, human rights violations are common among personnel. Instead of breaking the cycle of violence and creating camaraderie amongst ranks, vengeance for past abuses is the prominent cause of hazing by second year soldiers.
In addition, one case had been described in the article “Violations of Human Rights in the Russian Military”. It demonstrates the heightened level of torture and demise between ranks: Andrei Sychyov, a first year conscript, had been forced to squat until he lost all blood flow to his legs and genitals; he then developed an infection and had to undergo several amputations. To date, of those responsible for the violence, only one person has been issued a four-year sentence while investigation of the officers charged with negligence has been dropped.
Article “Violations of the rights of conscripts in Turkey” written by Askerhaklari Portal shows us that military conscripts process in Turkey is a very problematic rights issue. This article may help to understand what reasons are laid on the conscripts’ rights violation in Turkey. So, we can compare it with situation that took place in our country. Therefore, a group of people from Askerhaklari Portal created a website to help victims of ill-treatment and human rights abuses that young men faced with during their military service, and to provide an online platform to tell their stories and seek support in claiming their rights. The complaints are transformed into petitions and are submitted to the Human Rights Investigation Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA).
This report showed information about types of conscripts’ rights violation in the period of 25 April 2011 and 24April 2012: 48% of applications included complaints of insults (206); 39% included complaints of beatings (169); 16% included complaints of forced excessive physical activity (67); 15% included complaints of denial of access to proper health care (65); 13% complaints of threats (57); 9% included complaints of disproportionate punishment (40); 5% included complaints of being forced to run errands for superiors (9); 4% included complaints of sleep deprivation (19); 4% included complaints of institutionalized bullying (19).
The information from different articles showed that conscripts’ rights violation is a problem of a world scale. Kazakhstan as a Russia was a part of Soviet Union, and after the Union was collapsed in 1991, countries started to create their own “life” and it was not so easy. Mostly, countries reconstructed all systems from the Soviet Union and just made some changes. That is why Russian Military Code is quite similar to Kazakhstani’s one. As Cathy Smith mentioned it - there is a great need of modification of an old Military Code and Military system at all. Information about Turkish conscripts showed that types of violation in the army are similar in different countries. After the special web site was created and conscripts get necessary help cases of such kind violation decreased. In Kazakhstan, we need such agency that will regulate and monitor the conscripts’ process on a regular basis.

Data Collection: Methodology
There are a lot of facts and evidence concerning conscripts’ right discrimination. Some people are sure that it is a problem of conscripts and their race, nationality etc., while others claim that the root of an issue is in authority staff. One of the main aim of current research was to investigate the reasons of conscripts’ rights violation from reliable resource. The previous part of this research project was dedicated to descriptions and analysis of some articles. This part will provide the information about methods, which were used.
There were taken two interview. First was conducted face-to-face interview with Lieutenant colonel who works as a teacher in the Academy of Committee of National Security, who was working in the army directly with conscripts. The main reason why exactly interviews were chosen as research methods is specification of topic. There was need in data from both sides – from the side of controlling people and from the side of conscripts. Second interview is with man who was serving in the army which part is located in Almaty. The topic covers much information about different opinions, about different types of conscripts’ rights violation, what violation in army itself, information about military code, so I was allowed to take record of our conversation. In this case, interview is the most appropriate way to get information on this topic. In order to get enough information, it is necessary to conduct interview face to face with possibilities to ask follow-up questions or re-asking for clarification. Creation of question was based on knowledge acquired from the previous secondary research.
First interview was took place in a main building of Committee of National Security and arrangement of this interview was assigned in advance. We deal the meeting for an hour, but all interview took about 30 minutes, so I had an opportunity to get all interested answer on my questions. Moreover, Lieutenant colonel gave his personal opinion about rights’ violation in the army. It will help to write my critical analysis.
Another interview was conducted with man who had experience of right violation in the army. During my secondary research, I found some interesting articles. There were many examples of conscripts’ rights discrimination. Moreover, there was written about different types of violation. Articles describes such experience in different countries. Main aim was to get information from the ex-conscript, who can tell about Kazakhstani army and share with his opinion concerning conscripts’ rights violation, also to compare with data, which was collected from different articles and from the interview with Lieutenant colonel. Interview took about one hour because we talked a lot about condition of our army, situation that is took place in the other countries, we pulled back from our main theme and the interview carried informal character. However, I got full answers on my question. He was very kind and polite while our interview. Moreover, he was very interested in this topic, and I offer him to get my final version of a project after all.
The credibility of the data is guaranteed by the fact that the information is provided by people who have personal experience and understand the issue very closely. However, the project is also consist of statistical data, which was taken from the articles.
In general, there was no real limitation, which I faced during the primary research, all questions were asked and all information was caught. As a result, all questions were answered fully and widely. As for time-consuming – there was enough time that is result of arrangement of meeting in advance. All necessary and essential data were collected and the primary research was successfully completed.
As the results, several issues were discovered and further will be described in Data Results and Analysis section.

Data Results and Analysis
The problem under investigation was conscripts’ rights discrimination. The main purpose of the research is to find out reasons of rights’ violation that conscripts face with while they serve in the army and how it influences their life. Based on information from secondary research it was assumed that usually facts of abuse of authority by staff, insubordination, humiliation the dignity can effect soldiers’ performance. Aim of primary research was to find out what reasons of rights violation may take place in our army, to compare results from the interview with results from secondary research and analyze the results from survey. As the main mean of the research, interviews have brought their results. The research was aimed on observing two possible sides of problem – where rights are violated among and by conscripts and side where staff violate conscripts’ rights. There were found several problems, which can really influence conscripts psychologically and physically. The major of them are helplessness and fear of punishment. (Serebryannikov, 2011)
The first and the major problem found is helplessness. Helplessness is a fact when conscripts feel lack of support among other conscripts and when there is no protection from side of Chief-Commanders. (Serebryannikov, 2011) Problem arise because other soldiers do not try to help. There were several examples in the article “Violations of the rights if conscripts on Turkey” about conscripts’ helplessness. There is always loud manner of speaking in the army, chief officers always shout at conscripts that is why some of them are always under the pressure. When man is under the pressure usually he in risk of making a mistake. (Vnick, 2007) When soldier makes a mistake, he receives many invective words from his commander and usually obtain some physical charge as a punishment that is in addition accompanies with a shout. In some cases, it is one type of rights violation because sometimes commanders can groundless force conscripts for long physical exercises as a punishment. That is an abuse of authority and this fact is connected with staff’s noncompliance of military code.
However, there were some ways mentioned by the research participants for overcoming helplessness. All of them can be combined in one common idea – do not obey until staff will deal with conscripts the way it must be without any violations. Although there is a rule in a military code that each conscript have to obey to his commander. (Miedinger, 2009) Otherwise, disobedient person will be punished and as a punishment commander can choose the freedom limitation and force to a military prison. Moreover, the survey has its second part where questions was addressed to men who had experience in the army. They offered not to focus on commander’s way of managing and focus on basic conscripts’ performance.
The next problem discovered is fear of physical punishment. (Serebryannikov, 2011) The general sense of the problem based on the violation of labor and military code by staff. Chief-officers force conscript to do menial and degrading tasks. Some conscripts who are try to refuse such kind of work usually bitten by the chief-officers. Sometimes after such physical punishment, soldiers spend about a month or more in a hospital with different kind of contusions or fractures. (Sjolund, 2011) Such fear of punishment pushes conscript to perform all task that were given by chief-officer. For example, Andrei Sychyov, a first year conscript, had been forced to squat until he lost all blood flow to his legs and genitals; he then developed an infection and had to undergo several amputations. To date, of those responsible for the violence, only one person has been issued a four-year sentence while investigation of the officers charged with negligence has been dropped. While being a newcomer in a new area it is important to get a professional support.
As an example, during the survey people shared their thoughts about how problem of conscripts’ right violation can be solved. One of the most mentioned way was to create some kind of organization or agency for controlling quality of conscripts’ serving and provide support in case of violation. Nowadays army do not support conscripts by providing special agency that control the process of serving and protect them from discrimination. There were two interviews conducted: first with lieutenant colonel who is working as a teacher in an academy of national security and has an experience of working in the army directly with conscripts. Second interview was with man who was serving in the army, moreover he was served at part, where our first interviewee had worked. First, the main question of the all interviews was about the fact of conscripts’ rights discrimination. There were two different version. Ex-conscript told that there is too much violation in the army, but lieutenant colonel cleared answered that he did not face with rights’ violation in the army. Basically, there were many dissension facts between two sides. Our first interviewee told that conscript is provided all goods and equipment. That all conscripts receive a particular amount of money each month, that food is very high quality. However, ex-conscript gave many details about conditions. Main reason of rights’ violation is money. Commanders’ aim is to subordinate all conscripts, limit their activity, and control them in order to be sure that they will not complain.
The results of survey can be divided into two groups of people who consider that problem of violation is among conscripts and second group where people are consider that problem is in relations between staff and conscripts. All of participants value our army as it in a bad condition. Most of participants thought that main problem in our army is corruption. Moreover, most of participants vote for a military reform, they thought that it could change situation. Also there were offers to create specific organization in each part of army in order to control process of serving and be ready to help conscripts in case of violation.
Implementing of the current research is connected to certain difficulties, challenges and limitations. Due to the specification of the topic and chosen methodology having interviews as the main mean it is difficult to present any statistical information. However, taking into consideration the idea and the aim of conducting interview it is not necessary to present a lot of statistical data as all of the data is based on personal experience of the research participants, but not certain numbers or calculating percentage of collective opinion. The way, information is presented fully depends on the quality of the information and its character. One of the challenges of the research is connected to contacting people and having productive, convenient talk in form of interview, and also having correct questions for it. Another challenge is about the confidentiality of private data such as names of the participants. There was an agreement with lieutenant colonel that I will change his voice in order to protect his authority. It was made, as it is required by the concept of an interview.
Table below shows show that problem of conscripts’ rights discrimination is very illuminated among Kazakhstani people. Results from the survey show that 90% of asked people knew this fact. Sources were different: internet news portals, Kazakhstani newspapers, TV channels. Moreover, some of them had a direct experience of rights’ violation in the army among their relatives. That is make this problem more popular.
Table 1
Illumination the fact of conscripts’ rights violation Group | Male | Female | % | People with army experiencePeople without army experience | 106 | 4 | 10090 | Total (N=20) | | | |

The main purpose of current research was to investigate the main reasons of conscripts’ rights violation and find some alternative ways that can solve this problem. Importance of the research is in the need of well-functioned army that will protect citizens and be as a good place for people to work.
The research started with analysis of academic articles, which provided necessary background information for clear understanding the problem of conscripts’ rights discrimination, for finding some possible reasons, also to know the situation with conscripts in other countries.
Most important part of research was primary research that was an interview with two men, who are representatives of two opposite sides in army. Main problem arise between these two sides in army: supervisors and soldiers. The main aim of this part of research was to interview these people and find some dissension facts that will help to understand reasons and it will be possible to compare with facts that were found before in academic articles about conscripts’ rights violation.
Data results and analysis section demonstrated the analysis and description of all data collected because of interviews and questionnaires. Basically, current research project indicates the main reasons of conscripts’ rights violation. There were different points of view about facts of rights discrimination in the army. Information was collected from possible sources that can offer reliable data to analyze problem from different sides. There were interviewed a lieutenant colonel that had a huge experience in work with soldiers, a man that was serving in the army part where our first interviewee was worked and faced with discrimination personally, also there had been made a survey among two different groups of people, first – people of different ages that don’t have army experience and people who have army experience. All sources provided a data to analyze. There were found enough information because data consist of two opposite sides’ interviews data.
In conclusion, fact of conscripts’ rights discrimination appear in history of different countries from 1882 and extended to nowadays. This research project has analyzed main topic and provided the main reasons of rights’ violation. There are a sort of different reasons of rights’ violation in Kazakhstani army that are connected with different facts, for example: army parts that are located in more rural areas do not controlled properly by the head of Ministry of Defense. All operations of checking this army’s quality is conducted by this particular army part’s supervisors. This kind of self-checking cannot provide a real information. In comparison with other country’s situation concerning conscripts’ rights violation reasons of this fact in our country in most cases connected with money. Supervisors sell equipment and do not provide normal quality goods for conscripts. Next reasons of right’s discrimination in Kazakhstani army are conscripts’ fear of punishment and helplessness. In fact, soldiers is a big group of people that can argue with supervisors about some facts of rights violation, but they did not do this because usually violation occurs with small amount of soldiers. Therefore, they do not enter in the resolution because it not affect them. Other reason is fear of punishment when conscripts are afraid of physical punishment from the side of head staff that is another reason – abuse of authority. Moreover, this issue is still actual in the world and still attracts a lot of disputes and discussion which arise about rights’ discrimination in the army.

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