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

Latest Emergency

/_images_files/content/article_files/General_Appeals/Christmas_2014/iraq-group-4X3.jpg

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Praise God that local police in the village of Tehsil Summodri, Faisalabad District, Pakistan acted to withdraw false allegations of blasphemy against 31 Christians and 23 other villagers. The allegations under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which carries a mandatory death sentence) were made on 2 September when Christians were ploughing a piece of land given to them for free by its Muslim owner to extend the local Christian cemetery. A group of Muslims accused them of desecrating Muslim graves. The police investigation revealed that the land had been a Muslim cemetery many years earlier but the graves had been moved elsewhere. They changed the charges to the lesser ones under Section 297 (which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year or a fine). It is very unusual for the Pakistani police to defend the rights of Christians in this way. Pray that others will follow their example. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

    • School text-books in Turkey are still teaching that the Armenians and most other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire a century ago were agents of enemy foreign powers such as Britain and Russia. This, the books say, was the reason for what they call the “necessary deportation” of the Christians. Turkey still does not accept blame for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians, many massacred or dying of deprivation as they were force-marched out of their homeland. Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. Please pray that the innocent suffering of these faithful believers will be recognised by every country and that the world will resolve never to let such a genocide happen again. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Our Father in Heaven, we lift up our brothers and sisters serving sentences in labour camps in North Korea, whether foreigners like Kenneth Bae from the USA, or the far greater number of North Korean believers whose names we do not know but You do. Please pour out Your grace into their lives as they suffer hunger, exhaustion, pain and imprisonment for the sake of Christ. May they continue steadfast in their faith, loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors. May their Christ-like lives draw other North Koreans to You. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Nov 2014 00:00

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