KAZAKHSTAN: Attempts to suppress independent Muslims continue
Murat Telibekov, head of the non-state controlled Union of Muslims of Kazakhstan (UMK), is facing a further court case, Forum 18 News Service has learnt, as part of what Telibekov believes are attempts to close down non-state controlled Muslim organisations. Telibekov has made accusations of corruption at the Nur-Mubarak Islamic Cultural University, which is controlled by the Egyptian and Kazakh governments, and the university has launched a legal case against both Telibekov and a Kazakh TV station which interviewed him about his claims. Shamsudin Kerim, vice-rector of the Nur Mubarak University, told Forum 18 that "the UMK is an illegal organisation. It's just a bogus outfit. The only organisation that can represent the interests of Muslims is the [state-controlled] Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Kazakhstan."
The apparent cause of the summons is Telibekov's attacks on what he states is corruption at the university. "My articles about corruption at the university in the newspapers Novoye pokoleniye and Respublika, published in April 2005, are the grounds for the court case, as well as my television interview for 31 Kanal. But we have all the documents and evidence from students which demonstrate that there is corruption at the university. So we are prepared for legal action", Murat Telibekov told Forum 18 on 10 August.
Telibekov thinks though, that the real reason for the summons is a campaign by the state and the state-controlled Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan (the Muftiate) to eradicate independent Muslim organisations. He emphasised to Forum 18 that the Nur-Mubarak University is part of the structure of the Muftiate.
Speaking to Forum 18 on 19 August, Shamsudin Kerim, vice-rector of the Nur Mubarak Islamic Culture University, appeared to confirm Telibekov's view that the Mufitiate wants complete control of who represents Muslims. "The UMK is an illegal organisation. It's just a bogus outfit. The only organisation that can represent the interests of Muslims is the Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Kazakhstan," Shamsudin Kerim told Forum 18.
The UMK is also facing other legal attempts by the Muftiate to close it down (see F18News 20 July 3005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=612). Telibekov believes that both court cases, along with a 17 May 2005 fine imposed on him for signing himself in a newspaper article as head of the UMK (see F18News 7 July 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=599), are "links in the same chain."
Telibekov has maintained for some time that "the state, helped by the Muftiate, is trying to shut down independent Muslim organisations" and believes that the new "national security" laws have exacerbated the problems of independent Muslims (see F18News 20 July 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=612). Independently of Telibekov, the head of the Internal Policy Department of South Kazakhstan Regional Administration, has told Forum 18 of the state's wish to have centralised control of all of Kazakhstan's mosques to remove "inconsistencies" in "religious rituals" (see F18News 7 July 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=599). (END)
For a personal commentary on how attacking religious freedom damages national security in Kazakhstan, see F18News http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=564
For more background, see Forum 18's Kazakhstan religious freedom survey at http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=249 and articles on the 2005 "national security" legal amendments at http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=608 and http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=625
A printer-friendly map of Kazakhstan is available at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/index.html?Parent=asia&Rootmap=kazakh
4 August 2005
Kazakhstan's new "national security" requirement that all religious activity must be registered contradicts itself, Forum 18 News Service has been told. Both Professor Roman Podoprigora, a legal expert, and Aleksandr Klyushev, of the Association of Religious Organisations in Kazakhstan, note that Article 6-2 of the amended Religion Law, in Professor Podoprigora's words, "says that formal registration [or notification] is adequate, which directly contradicts Articles 4 and 9 of the same law, which says that juridical registration is compulsory!" Klyushev thinks that this is a legal loophole, and Professor Podoprigora believes that the contradiction arose because parliament did not notice it. Ninel Fokina, of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, argues strongly that the new Law is against the Kazakh Constitution. Religious minorities continue to voice deep anxiety. "It's as if they were playing chess with us," Valentina Volkova of the Hare Krishna community told Forum 18.
20 July 2005
Baptists, other Protestants, Ahmadiya Muslims, non-state controlled Muslims and Hare Krishna devotees have all come under increasing pressure in the wake of Kazakhstan's breaking of international human rights standards with its harsh new "national security" law, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Amongst current cases known to Forum 18, a Protestant church has had its rental contact cancelled by a local authority; a Baptist pastor is on trial for refusing to register his church; the head of the minority Ahmadiya Muslim community has fled the country for fear of arrest; attempts are being made to close down the independent non-state controlled Union of Muslims of Kazakhstan (UMK); and a local authority has refused to allow a Hare Krishna festival to be celebrated.
20 July 2005
An Uzbek pastor of a Kazakh church, Rashid Turebaev, has been told by police to leave the city of Karaganda "immediately or there would be serious trouble," Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Turebaev has in the past been told by officials that he does not need to re-register his place of residence, but in a sudden reversal has now been fined for not re-registering. He is pastor of the registered Living Vine Methodist Church, and the National Security Service secret police has pressured him to pass on information about foreign citizens – especially Americans - who belong to his congregation. The police have accused Turebaev, without any evidence, of doing unregistered missionary work and struggled to reply to Forum 18's questions as to how Turebaev's work could under the law be seen as missionary activity, and why their has been a sudden change in the official attitude.