Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Repression in Kazakhstan belies presiden...

Email:

Repression in Kazakhstan belies president’s claims of religious freedom

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Repression in Kazakhstan belies president’s claims of religious freedom

Country/Region: Kazakhstan, Central Asia

Reports of raids on church services in Kazakhstan, restrictions on meetings and on sharing one’s faith, and censorship of religious literature contradict the president’s claim that the country has religious freedom.

Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, claims the country enjoys full religious freedom
Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, claims the country enjoys full religious freedom
CC BY-SA 3.0 / www.wpfdc.org

President Nursultan Nazarbayev claimed on 17 April that “Kazakhstan is an example to the world of equal rights and freedoms for all citizens” and that “religious freedom is fully secured” in the country. In contrast, a recent tightening of already stifling controls on religious groups has led human rights defenders and religious communities to conclude that religious free speech does not exist in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA) has instructed people to report any individuals who speak about their faith with others in public to the police. Marat Azilkhanov, an ARA official, said:

It is not allowed simply to go and preach your religious ideas on the streets, stopping people and talking about your faith… This must be done [only] in approved places.

The ARA considers that talking about one’s faith with others constitutes missionary activity, which requires personal registration.

The proposed new penal code, due to reach parliament later this year, is set to introduce a maximum penalty of four months’ imprisonment for people convicted of sharing their faith. Currently, a person doing so can be fined up to the equivalent of almost two months’ average wages.

Services raided and literature censored

Christians who meet in private are also at risk of prosecution. Seven mostly elderly Christians received fines on 18-19 April after an Easter Sunday service held in a private home in Zhaskent, East Kazakhstan, was raided by police. Galina Gileva, a 73-year-old church member, subsequently suffered a heart attack that she attributes to the stress of the raid and the six-hour interrogation to which the church members were later subjected.

In a letter in which she recounted the incident, Galina said that the police “have decided to use fear to separate us from God, something they can never achieve – they cannot ban me from my Christian faith”.

A 15 year-old girl who was also present at the raid was later visited at her home by a police officer who pressured her not to attend services again.

Aleksandr Balaev (66), who was regarded as the leader of the small congregation, was fined the equivalent of six months’ worth of his pension for “leadership of an unregistered or banned social or religious organisation”. He and the other believers were also initially accused of storing illegal drugs, and were threatened with 24 hours’ imprisonment when they refused to sign a statement that referred to this activity.

A Baptist church in Oskemen was also raided on 20 March. The pastor of the church was fined the same amount as Aleksandr, despite insisting that that he had not caused any harm to the state, to society or to individuals. His church refuses to seek official registration on principle.

These penalties follow those meted out in early April to seven Christians, including two elderly women, for participating in an unregistered religious meeting in Ayagoz.

Restrictions on who can lead or address religious meetings are also used to crack down even on state-registered churches. Another Easter Sunday service, this time at a church in Stepnogorsk in Akmola region, was also raided and the visiting pastor told he should have sought local state permission to preach.

Compulsory prior censorship of all printed and imported religious literature is another way in which the state controls Christian activity. Confiscation of religious books appears to be increasing, with Christians amongst those most likely to be targeted. Kazakhstan’s National Library in Almaty recently had all its religious books checked by the government, although no further action was taken.

A court recently ordered the destruction of 121 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles, but its decision was overturned by an appeal court following widespread outrage. This was the second instance of such a decision being overturned.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Repression in Kazakhstan belies president’s claims of religious freedom

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Father God, we pray for Meriam Ibrahim and her family in Sudan as they face a very uncertain future. We thank You that Meriam was cleared on appeal of the charges of adultery and apostasy that were laid against her and that she was spared from flogging and execution. But we pray that the new charges of forgery and false information relating to her travel documents will also be dismissed and that the family will be free to leave Sudan and begin a new life elsewhere. We pray that You will keep her safe in the meantime from those who have threatened her with death. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark