Forum 18 Archive: KAZAKHSTAN: “A general unwillingness to properly protect human rights” – 25 February 2015.
Kazakhstan pretends to be a modern democratic state, but it is, in fact, nothing less than a heavily cosmetised (post)communist dictatorship, where religious persecution is rampant.
If oil money would make countries civilised, the whole Middle East would look like the Garden of Eden. It obviously does not, not does Kazakhstan (or other similar ‘stan’s, like Azerbaijan, for instance).
Kazakhstan, one of the former Soviet colonies in Central Asia, and a reputable oil power, is trying to convince the world it is a civilised nation. Yet, religious persecution cotinues and even intensifies there, for decades, as proven by this recent article published by Forum 18.
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KAZAKHSTAN: Criminal conviction, large “moral damages” – and new criminal case?
By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
Retired Presbyterian Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was this afternoon (17 February) given a four-year suspended prison term in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. He was convicted of harming the health of a church member, even though that church member has repeatedly insisted to state authorities that her health was not harmed. He also has to pay his alleged “victim” large “moral damages” of 2 Million Tenge (about 65,800 Norwegian Kroner, 7,900 Euros or 10,800 US Dollars). “In my experience as a lawyer, this is one of the strangest cases I have seen in terms of legality”, Pastor Kashkumbayev’s lawyer Nurlan Beysekeyev told Forum 18 News Service after the verdict was handed down orally. “It was not just strange, but from the standpoint of the law, all types of violations occurred, when the case was opened, when it was being investigated and during the trial.” Kashkumbayev will appeal against the verdict. Other violations of freedom of religion or belief continue, including ongoing raids on meetings for worship without state permission. Continue reading “Kazakhstan – Religious Persecution Continues Unrelentlessly”
Kazakh pastor’s trial halts amid heated arguments.
Pray for persecuted Christians in Kazakhstan, a country that pretends to be civilised, but knows nothing about democracy and human rights.
KAZAKHSTAN: “They need permission from the local authorities”
By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
Up to 16 police officers and journalists – led by the local religious affairs official – raided the meeting for Sunday worship on 10 November of Baptists in Oral (Uralsk) in West Kazakhstan Region. Ten of those present face possible fines of one or two months’ average salary, for meeting for worship without state permission. One of the Baptists, Kenzhetai Baytinov, may have been removed from his job under state pressure. Elsewhere, imam Mukhammad Toleu of a mosque in Aktobe, which was denied state re-registration, has had his appeal against a fine for leading the community of one month’s average salary rejected. He told a court that “no law bans praying five times a day”, but he was found guilty. “They had no registration and no permission to meet”, Prosecutor’s Assistant Talap Usnadin insisted to Forum 18 News Service. Asked why, he insisted that “they need permission from the local authorities”. And in a village near Aktobe, a Muslim who turned his home into a mosque with an unapproved minaret has been fined.
Up to 16 police officers and journalists – led by the local religious affairs official – raided the meeting for Sunday worship on 10 November of a small Baptist congregation in Oral (Uralsk) in West Kazakhstan Region, local Baptists complained to Forum 18 News Service from the town on 21 November. Ten of those present are due in court to face possible fines of one or two months’ average salary.
Continue reading “New Persecutions in Kazakhstan”
Pastor Makset in his prison cell in Kazakhstan
Djabbarbergenov lived in a Kazakh prison cell, under threat of deportation to his native Uzbekistan to face almost-certain years of harsh jail time.
His alleged crime: Leading small Christian communities in house churches without official registration. By 2007, this had made “Pastor Makset” a wanted criminal, and he fled across the border into Kazakhstan to escape arrest. By 2009, he and his family had won refugee status there from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR. So far, Kazakhstan has refused to recognize the family’s refugee status.
Last year, Uzbekistan bumped up the convert pastor’s “criminal accusations” to charges of terrorism, and demanded the Kazakh government send him back home to face trial and a potential 15-year prison sentence.
His pregnant wife, Aygul, and their four young sons were left watching wide-eyed as the Kazakh police arrested him in their Almaty home at noon on Sept. 5. It would be three months before they saw each other again.
In late December, a few weeks after they had flown to safety and a new life in Europe, they told the story of their family’s faith ordeal in a series of interviews with World Watch Monitor. Their location is being withheld to preserve their security. Continue reading “90 Days to Freedom – The Story of Pastor Makset – World Watch Monitor”
Kazakhstan is enforcing though the courts the closures of many religious
communities after the deadline for re-registration applications expired.
Communities complain of arbitrary and flawed decisions. One Protestant
church was liquidated for providing “false information” after one of its 54
founders died shortly before the re-registration deadline, its pastor told
Forum 18 News Service. Registration requires only 50 founders. An
independent mosque was closed down for failing to give extensive
information about its beliefs in its application. The judge in the case
refused to explain to Forum 18 why her verdict said the mosque’s
representative was present in court, while the imam told Forum 18 they knew
nothing of the hearings. A Protestant Church complained to Forum 18 it was
closed down because most of its members are ethnic Kazakhs. No one at the
government’s Agency of Religious Affairs in the capital Astana was prepared
to discuss the court-ordered closures with Forum 18. Continue reading “Kazakhstan – Mosques and Churches Forcibly Closed”
Uzbekistan is now seeking to extradite detained UNHCR-recognised refugee Makset Djabbarbergenov from Kazakhstan on charges which carry a maximum 15 year jail term. The Protestant who fled to Kazakhstan is being sought by Uzbekistan for exercising freedom of religion or belief in his home town of Nukus. A Kazakh 15 October Almaty court decision, authorised further detention until 5 November. The Kazakh court also claimed that the Uzbek charges – which seek to prosecute exercising freedom of religion or belief – can be equated to terrorism-related charges in Kazakh law. Djabbarbergenov’s wife has been stopped by Kazakh authorities from visiting him, she told Forum 18 News Service, as has a human rights defender who found he is being held in “quarantine”. The Supreme Court claims it cannot find an appeal he lodged in August. Also, Kazakhstan has yet to reply to a finding of the UN Committee Against Torture that it violated human rights obligations by extraditing to Uzbekistan a group of Muslim refugees and asylum seekers. Kazakhstan’s current bid to join the UN Human Rights Council claims it would, if elected, “enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Human Rights Council”.
Read the whole article on Forum 18 site.
Astana (AsiaNewsAgencies) – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Ahmadis, and Hare Krishna: the ax of religious repression and censorship of books and magazines continues to fall on the Kazakh faithful, with freedom of worship increasingly at risk, already reduced by stringent and illiberal laws. Violations against religious freedom, are compounded by the difficulty of reporting of individual episodes which emerge only weeks later. Forum18 has learned from local sources that from February to late April, in three different regions of Kazakhstan, police detained Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Hare Krishnas, threatening them with punishments because they publicaly expressed their faith. Continue reading “Violation of Religious Freedom in Kazakhstan”
August 18, 2011
The government of the former Soviet nation of Kazakhstan seems to be fostering the fear of Islamist extremism to further restrict civil rights, including religious freedom, WEA-RLC has learnt. It appears that the Kazakh parliament, a rubber stamp for President Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, is preparing to strengthen the government’s grip over religious groups and activities.
In Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country, all religious groups are required to register with the government. Under Administrative Code Articles 374-1 and 375, local authorities can penalize activities of unregistered organizations with fines or detention. And the Ministry of Justice can deny registration on the basis of an insufficient number of members or if its charter violates the law. In addition, the Law on Extremism empowers the government to designate a group as an extremist organization, ban its activities and penalize its members.
As if this was not sufficient, the Kazakh parliament in 2008 passed the “Law on Amendments and Additions to Several Legislative Acts on Questions of Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations,” increasing the harshness of penalties for unregistered religious activities. However, the constitutional court annulled the amendment. Continue reading “Christians May Face More Restrictions in Kazakhstan”