United Nations Calls Arrest and Detention of Teymur Akhmedov a Violation of Religious Freedom.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called on the immediate release of Teymur Akhmedov, a Jehovah’s Witness, jailed in Kazakhstan. Mr. Akhmedov has been jailed since January for “incitement of religious hatred.”
As World Religion News reported, he was then sentenced to a 5-year prison term. WGAD criticizes the arrest stating Mr. Akhmedov was tricked into communicating his religious beliefs to undercover police officers and was not advocating hatred but merely explaining his religious beliefs in a private setting. The WGAD has also criticized the legal proceedings, arguing Mr. Akhmedov was not given access to a fair trial.
— HRWF International (@HRWFint) May 10, 2017
Even though Kazakhstan has religious freedom as a constitutional right, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been targeted by police forces and subject to harassment and repression. WRN reported this may be partially based on influence by neighboring Russia, which has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Even after being released from jail Mr. Akhmedov is banned from religious activity for three years. The pattern of religious oppression against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region seems to be finally getting more international attention and backlash.