19 August 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: Years of intrusive questioning

A Muslim complains of six years' intrusive police questioning about his faith: "These are my personal beliefs they are asking about." The Interior Minister denied that police questioned Yerlan – most recently on 20 July - because of his faith. The Interior Ministry says 23,000 are on a register of adherents of "destructive religious movements". Rights defender Yevgeny Zhovtis says no such category exists in law. [read more...]

15 August 2019

GEORGIA: Who needs a Religion Law?

Many religious communities and human rights defenders strongly oppose Georgian government plans for a restrictive Religion Law. Instead, they call for resolving freedom of religion and belief problems by implementing recommendations made by the Council of Religions under the Public Defender. [read more...]

13 August 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: Officials try to force registration signature withdrawals

Officials harassing founders of religious communities, possibly trying to block applications to exist. In May 2019 police began harassing Oskemen's New Life Church founders as it sought re-registration. Officers visited several late at night, threatening one woman in her late 70s. Aktau's Hare Krishna community has faced similar harassment. [read more...]

7 August 2019

TAJIKISTAN: Pensioner faces up to 10 years' imprisonment

The criminal trial of 68-year-old Jehovah's Witness Shamil Khakimov in Khujand resumes on 20 August. He faces up to 10 years' imprisonment for "inciting religious hatred", charges he denies. Prosecutors claim materials confiscated from him and others contained "features of extremist activity". The investigation revealed a 2016 state "expert analysis" by three Imams claiming the distribution of a Tajik Bible translation causes "confrontation". [read more...]

5 August 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: Eight jailed for up to eight years

An Almaty Judge jailed eight Muslims for between five and a half and eight years for participating in a WhatsApp religious discussion group which the KNB secret police claimed promoted "propaganda of terrorism" or "inciting hatred". The men denied the charges. The ninth man is due for trial later as he is suffering serious heart problems. [read more...]

31 July 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: Nine years' jail for online discussion group?

Eight Muslims face up to nine years' jailing each for participating in a WhatsApp religious discussion group. The KNB secret police initiated the criminal charges of "propaganda of terrorism" or "inciting hatred", which the defendants deny. The verdict is imminent. The case against the ninth – who is suffering serious heart problems – will be heard at a future trial. [read more...]

26 July 2019

CRIMEA: Prisoner sent to Russia, more awaiting trial

Arrested in 2017, sentenced in January 2019, Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov has lost all his appeals. In May he was transferred from occupied Crimea to a labour camp in Russia, where he was placed in punishment cell. A court extended Imam Rustem Abilev's pre-trial detention. Russian FSB officers raided Jehovah's Witnesses in Yevpatoriya and Sevastopol, bringing another criminal case. [read more...]

23 July 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector jailed for four years

In the third jailing of a conscientious objector in 2019, 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness Bahtiyar Atahanov was jailed for four years. This is the longest jail term known to have been handed to a conscientious objector, because the authorities deemed him a soldier after forcibly conscripting him. Other prisoners of conscience have received far longer jail terms. [read more...]