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    » 05/03/2012, 00.00

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Kazakh authorities against Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishna



    In recent weeks the clamp down on religions has intensified, with arbitrary arrests and seizure of material. A hundred of Bibles and Gospels requisitioned from Akmola Baptist community. Now the faithful face trial. Hare krishnas detained for distributing "extremist literature".

    Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - 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.

    In recent days, the authorities closed the last Ahmadi place of worship in Almaty, the commercial capital of the country, depriving the Muslim religious minority of a place to meet and pray. Christian Methodist's are also under the spotlight, their center has been subjected to a series of inspections by administrative officials. The clamp down is the result of a law which came into effect last October 21 and strongly desired by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, provoking fierce controversy and resulting in the cancellation of nearly 600 permits for churches and religious denominations (see AsiaNews 23/02/2012 Kazakh government to ban 579 Churches and religious communities).

    The iron fist against religions was further strengthened by a later decision, adopted by the government in February last and published the following month in legislation on censorship, drafted by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The decree issued by the government sets strict rules for the introduction into Kazakhstan of books, magazines and other religious material and gives police the power to carry out checks, seizures and arrests.

    Last March, in less than a week, five Baptists in the northern region of Akmola were stopped because "distributing Christian literature" in the street. The police requisitioned the books (one hundred in all) and local sources add, arrested two of them "as if they were criminals." The judiciary has opened an investigation and they risk a conviction in criminal court: the distribution of Christian material, in Kazakhstan, is now a crime punishable by law. Copies of the Bible in Kazakh and the Gospels in Russian were also seized.

    In addition to Christians, Hare Krishnas are also in the crosshairs of the authorities on charges of distributing "extremist literature". The incident occurred in April in the east of the country. Now judges must decide whether to refer them to trial. In recent days, instead proceedings against two Jehovah's Witnesses, on trial for having spoken in public about their faith in the northern region of Kostanai, were shelved.

     

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    See also

    27/04/2013 KAZAKHSTAN
    Kazakhstan, "religious freedom does not exist"
    Cases of persecution against minority religious are growing. Members of religious communities and human rights defenders in the country report that there is no freedom of faith.

    09/06/2007 KAZAKHSTAN
    “Soviet methods” used on religious minorities
    At an Osce conference, the countries religious authorities vaunt Astana’s religious freedom and tolerance. At the same time Jehovah Witnesses are sentenced for having gathered in prayer and the temple of the Hare Krishna is demolished. The systematic persecution of religious minorities.

    02/06/2008 KAZAKHSTAN
    Anti-terrorism police "monitor" Christian worship
    Police burst into Christian religions functions, to film and identify those present. Although it has not yet been approved, a new law is already being applied that requires authorisation even for a religious from another city to visit.

    27/08/2015 RUSSIA
    Hare Krishna accused of violence against their children, " forced to dance naked and be vegetarian"
    The accuser, Yulia Zimová, wants to create a precedent to ensure that religious communities do not violate the rights of children. Hare Krishna leader rejects charges.

    21/11/2013 RUSSIA
    Russia, attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentecostals increase under anti-extremism law
    Experts from the Sova center denounce the escalation of attacks against religious minorities. On November 25 Tagarong trial opens against 16 Jehovah's Witnesses accused of extremism for continuing to pray and read the Bible together, after the ban on the community decided by the Russian Supreme Court in 2009.



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