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18 July 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: New summary fines, no due process

In new development, three Council of Churches Baptists in Kazakhstan have been in 2016 fined by police without a court hearing, for meeting for worship without state permission. Human rights defenders know of no earlier cases since police acquired the power in January 2015.

15 July 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: How many punished for exercising freedom?

Kazakhstan has misled the UN Human Rights Committee about the numbers of people it has fined and jailed for exercising freedom of religion and belief. Four days after the Human Rights Committee examined the country, Kazakhstan fined three more people for exercising their freedom.

14 June 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Harsher laws planned as 89-year-old fined

Kazakhstan's President orders harsher Religion Law drafted by mid-August, as fines for exercising freedom of religion or belief continue. 89-year-old Baptist Yegor Prokopenko was again fined for leading his community, while an Atyrau giftshop owner was fined for offering four Korans for sale.

10 June 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Bank accounts blocked, "expert analysis" costs

At least 26 people convicted of exercising their freedom of religion and belief have had bank accounts blocked by the government without being informed of this, and without additional legal process. They are also required to pay for "expert analyses" used to convict them.

8 June 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: 31st criminal conviction since December 2014

Kazakhstan has jailed Murat Takaumov for 9 months for alleged membership of Tabligh Jamaat, the 31st Muslim to be convicted. Five more alleged members are under investigation. And 12 Kazakh organisations have strongly criticised the government's ICCPR record to the UN Human Rights Committee.

16 May 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Religious musical banned

Kazakhstan's Religious Affairs Committee warns organisers they would face prosecution if they did not cancel mid-May performances of religious musical in Astana and Almaty. If a show is religious "it requires permission in accordance with the law", a Committee official told Forum 18.

13 May 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Punished for worship meetings; UN appeals

A Baptist was fined in Kazakhstan for refusing to pay a fine for hosting a worship meeting, and remains exit blacklisted. Two Atyrau Region Protestants face prosecution for a meeting in a café after church. Jehovah's Witnesses await United Nations response to fine complaints.

11 May 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Religious literature fines, prison, destruction

Roman Dimmel served a second 3-day prison term for refusing to pay a fine for offering Christian literature. A court fined two fellow Baptists for offering literature and ordered it destroyed, which the Religious Affairs Department will do when the verdict comes into force.

22 April 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Now 30 Sunni Muslims convicted since December 2014, KNB secret police spy

Two more Sunni Muslims accused of membership of banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat were jailed in Kazakhstan in mid-March, Forum 18 News Service notes. These latest jailings bring to 30 the number of Sunni Muslims conviced for exercising freedom of religion or belief in Kazakhstan since December 2014, 18 of whom were jailed. The trial of another Muslim prisoner of conscience, which began in the capital Astana on 19 April, is due to resume on 28 April. All the cases were initiated by the National Security Committee (KNB) secret police, which has used a "senior operational officer" to infiltrate the movement – even though an earlier KNB-initiated study found that there was no reason to ban the movement. The KNB spy, 28-year-old Sanat Aktenberdy, refused to explain to Forum 18 what if any wrongdoing he might have found, or what exactly the alleged "extremist activity" of Tabligh Jamaat was. One court verdict states as an accusation that the movement displayed "intolerance" towards Shia Islam – even though the government has banned Shia Muslims from exercising freedom of religion or belief.

31 March 2016

KAZAKHSTAN: Good Friday in Almaty

Police and officers of other security agencies raided 11 church premises and homes of the leaders of New Life Pentecostal Church in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty on 25 March, the day the Church was commemorating Good Friday. This was the first the Church knew of a criminal case of alleged large-scale fraud opened against it in May 2015. The criminal investigation follows alleged complaints from individuals "about the fraudulent appropriation by the pastors of the local religious organisation of large financial sums, as well as moveable and immoveable property, received under the guise of offerings", police claimed in a statement. "We're not fraudsters," one church member told Forum 18 News Service following the raids. "On the contrary, we help people. We've been working here in Kazakhstan for 26 years." Asked by Forum 18 if any other criminal cases have been opened against the Church, Adet Doskeyev of the city's Religious Affairs Department responded: "It's a secret."

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