Sting calls off Kazakh concert following oil strike crackdown

Last Updated: Jul 04, 2011, 13:22 PM IST

London: British singer Sting has backed out of a concert in Astana after being apprised by human rights group Amnesty International of a ‘crackdown’ on oil workers in the Kazakh capital.

Thousands of workers at UzenMunaiGas, a unit of oil producer KazMunaiGas Exploration Production, went on strike on May 26, for salary cuts and imprisonment of their lawyer on false grounds. Now, almost 250 workers have been fired.

Sting, who was criticised for performing in 2009 in the ‘repressive’ country Uzbekistan, described the treatment of the workers as ‘unacceptable’.

“Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing,” Scotsman.com quoted the 59-year-old ‘Police’ frontman as saying.

“The Kazakh gas and oil workers and their families need our support and the spotlight of the international media on their situation in the hope of bringing about positive change,” he added.

According to Sting’s website, had the singer continued with the concert it might have been ‘interpreted as an endorsement of the administration and surely go against everything he (Sting] has stood for, while supporting Amnesty and human rights, for 40 years’.

ANI