Kazakhstan

Central Downtown Astana, Kazakhstan by Ken and Nyetta is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In a move that is very reminiscent of Russia’s strong policies against religious propagation, Kazakhstan has imprisoned a Jehovah’s Witness for ‘inciting religious hatred’.

A sick Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced to five years in prison for missionary activity. Teymur Akhmedov, was caught preaching religion when a group of police informants posing as students asked him to discuss his faith with them. A court declared that he has been trying to incite religious hatred and attempting to promote his ideologies in the country, thereby sentencing him to prison besides placing a three-year ban on his Bible education activities.

Akhmedov is also suffering from cancer and is being denied medical treatment. The 61-year-old father of three was reportedly subjected to a lot of torture, including beatings, even during his term in prison before official trial. Akhmedov rejected the punishment he received for having transgressed the Criminal Civil Code 174 and has indicated that he will appeal to a higher body.

Akhmedov was arrested in January this year under the Criminal Civil Code by the National Security Committee, who conducted a sting operation on him to expose his missionary activities. The Criminal Civil Code is already controversial for its take on religious freedom. Spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ world headquarters, David A. Semonian, said that Jehovah Witnesses around the world are concerned about Akhmedov, adding that they hope “the authorities will dismiss these unwarranted charges and finally allow this loyal, law-abiding Christian to be reunited with his family and receive the medical care he urgently requires.”

The National Security Committee police have also launched an offensive on Akhmedov’s two lawyers, claiming that by secretly appealing to the president, they have broken the law. The move by the Kazakhstan court is being viewed by many as a sign that the country is following in the footsteps of the Russian Federation, which is actively trying to suppress religious activities that are contrary to the faith of the land. In fact, the Russian Supreme Court even decided to kill the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.

Semonian revealed that the community plans on appealing to the United Nations Human Rights Commission to end the discriminatory and persecutory oppression of religious rights in Kazakhstan, and also to bring freedom to Akhmedov.

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