As Kazakhstan is about to begin the role of 2010 Chairperson-in-Office for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the country continues to violate its OSCE human rights commitments. One Protestant pastor is facing criminal charges for «causing severe damage to health due to negligence» because he prayed with a woman about her health, at her request. The authorities continue to move to close Christian-run rehabilitation centres for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. And a Muslim secondary school teacher has been warned not to wear a hijab to school, although she continues to be able to do this.
The KNB secret police declined to explain why a pastor praying for people attending his church should be a matter for criminal charges. Asked whether Pastor Kim is being targeted for his faith, a KNB officer told Forum 18 News Service that: «There is no persecution in
Criminal prosecution for praying
Pastor Vissa Kim of Taraz’s Grace Light of
The woman concerned attended the church from October 2007 to March 2008, and in 2008 approached Pastor Kim to ask for prayer and laying on of hands for her poor health. The KNB secret police then used a hidden camera to film Pastor Kim praying with the woman. She subsequently stopped coming to the church and complained to the KNB that her health had deteriorated after the prayer. Church members have told Forum 18 that they find it strange that the KNB apparently knew when they would be able to film Pastor Kim praying with the woman. They also note that the KNB itself claims that the Regional Prosecutor’s Office had sanctioned the secret filming, but that this is not recorded in the court documents.
The first hearing on the case took place on 1 December. «The second hearing was postponed a few times, and the last time it was postponed on 20 December,» church members told Forum 18. «Now, probably the trial will resume after New Year.»
Asked why Pastor Kim was facing criminal charges for praying with an individual at her request, Judge Nurmakhammat Abidov, Chair of Taraz Criminal Court, said that it is the Court’s duty to consider cases brought before the court. «The court needs to see whether the charges brought against Kim are well-founded,» he told Forum 18 on 22 December. He said he could not tell when the next hearing would take place. He referred enquiries to Judge Azamat Slepov, who is leading the case. Judge Slepov’s phone went unanswered on 22 December.
The KNB’s «expert opinion» on their film, provided to the court, claimed that laying of hands on persons was «hypnotising» , and that singing of psalms and hymns is «neuro-linguistic programming» . Church members strongly deny the accuracy of these claims.
Jambyl Regional Department of the KNB secret police declined to tell Forum 18 why they brought criminal charges against Pastor Kim. «We have referred the case to the court, please talk to the court,» the chief duty officer told Forum 18 on 22 December. «The court will decide whether or not Kim is guilty of the crime.» He declined to explain why a pastor praying for people attending his church should be a matter for criminal charges. Asked whether Pastor Kim is being targeted for his faith, the KNB officer responded: «There is no persecution in
Jambyl Regional Prosecutor’s Office said the Prosecutor was away, and referred Forum 18 to Kydyrali Ospanov, Deputy Prosecutor of the Region. Ospanov’s assistant, who did not give her name, several times asked Forum 18 on 22 December to call back later. Later that day the phone was switched off. On 23 December Ospanov’s assistant told Forum 18 to call back, which Forum 18 did without success.
Targeting of Christian-run addiction rehabilitation centres continues
The criminal case against Sergei Mironov, a Protestant Christian who founded a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, is continuing. On 22 December,
The criminal case was originally brought before the Beskaragai District Court by the District Prosecutor’s Office. The District Court then sent the case to the
Mironov said that the centre has stopped its rehabilitation work but many residents are still staying in the building of the centre because they have «no place» to go. «We could not just dump people out on the street», he stated. The centre was ordered to be permanently closed in September 2009 and its founder was earlier fined after a raid by 25 officials carrying sub-machine guns from the ordinary police, KNB secret police, and the Sanitary-Epidemiological Service (see F18News 6 October 2009 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1359).
Several Christian-run addiction rehabilitation centres which are independent of Mironov’s centre are also being targeted by the authorities. In one of these cases the leader of the centre also faces criminal charges. Protestant Christians associated with the centre, who wish to be anonymous, are hoping for a «positive outcome» of a court case soon to take place. They suspect that discussing the charges in public may «jeopardize» the result of the case.
The authorities in several of
Teacher warned for wearing hijab
A geography teacher has been told not to wear a hijab to her school. Aida Dekebayeva, a geography teacher at
Akhmediyeva said that Dekebayeva continued to work in the school and she continued wearing her hijab. «Dekebayeva promised she would let us know if she is dismissed from the school or she gets any other punishment,» Akhmediyeva told Forum 18. «For now she is doing fine in the school.»
Headteacher Muratbekova was not available to talk to Forum 18. The woman who answered the phone told Forum 18 on 22 December that Muratbekova «had already left for today.» She referred Forum 18 to the Deputy Headteacher of the School.
The Deputy Headteacher, who did not give her name, told Forum 18 on 22 December that Dekebayeva «continues her work» in the school and is «wearing a hijab as she used to» . She declined to say why Dekebayeva was warned not to wear a hijab. «Only Headteacher Muratbekova can answer questions on that issue,» she responded.
[The head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, human rights defender Yevgeni Zhovtis, was sentenced to a 4 year jail term in September 2009. The trial and subsequent appeal have been condemned by many, including the governments of the European Union, as showing a lack of respect for Kazakhstan’s international human rights commitments.]
The wider context
Forum 18 News service
Published on December 23, 2009