» 05/03/2012 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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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,