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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

KAZAKHSTAN: 143 administrative prosecutions in 2022

More than a third of the 143 known administrative prosecutions in 2022 punished individuals for posting religious texts and recordings on social media accounts without state permission. In one case a journalist was initially fined – changed to a verbal warning – for posting her interview with a state-approved imam. Many individuals were punished for offering religious literature for sale without state permission, either in shops or online. Two individuals were punished for having religious books, although this is not an offence. In two cases, courts ordered religious literature destroyed.

TAJIKISTAN: Ailing prisoner of conscience's hospital transfer refused again

The governor of Strict Regime Prison YaS 3/5 in Khujand refuses to explain why Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience Shamil Khakimov – aged 72 and in urgent need of specialised medical care – cannot be transferred to hospital. On 15 February in his absence, Sugd Regional Court rejected Khakimov's latest appeal. Among the 6 other known prisoners of conscience jailed for exercising freedom of religion and belief, Ismaili leader Muzaffar Davlatmirov from Mountainous Badakhshan was in August 2022 transferred to General Regime Prison YaS 3/6 in Yavan. Jailed Islamic Renaissance Party member, Zubaydullo Rozik, was again sent to punishment cell for having a Koran.

TAJIKISTAN: Regime bans Ismaili home prayers, lessons for children

At least two Ismaili home owners in Mountainous Badakhshan were fined one month's average wage each for hosting prayer meetings in their homes. The regime banned such meetings in late 2022. Officials told elders on 14 January in Khorugh not to allow prayers in homes, that local people must remove portraits of Ismaili spiritual leader the Aga Khan, and that study at the London-based Institute of Ismaili Studies is no longer allowed. The regime also banned voluntary lessons for children based on a course from the Aga Khan Foundation.

KYRGYZSTAN: Violent attacks continue in 2022 and into 2023

Violent attacks against non-Muslims in regions outside the capital Bishkek have continued in 2022 and into 2023, local Protestants told Forum 18. Officials refused to explain why perpetrators are not prosecuted and punished, and what is being done to stop such attacks. When such attacks happen, Protestants stated, "local believers are afraid to complain to the authorities" as "they are afraid of reprisals from the authorities and local mobs for complaining". "These are only isolated cases," Kanatbek Midin uuly of the State Commission for Religious Affairs claimed.

KAZAKHSTAN: Religious censorship at border

For the first known time since February 2020, courts in 2022 fined six individuals several weeks' average wages for trying to import religious literature. Border guards seized the books at Shymkent Airport, Turkistan Airport and at a border crossing from Uzbekistan. A Shymkent Airport border guard insisted that his service had not imposed the two literature seizures at the airport and subsequent fines. "We didn't confiscate any books, we just took them away and handed them on to the police to be examined," he said.

TAJIKISTAN: Urgent medical treatment denied again, defying UN Human Rights Committee

Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience 71-year-old Shamil Khakimov has again been denied urgently needed medical treatment in a specialised hospital, after a closed court hearing in his prison. The repeated denial of medical treatment is against multiple statements by the UN Human Rights Committee. Elsewhere, the family and friends of Ismaili Muslim prisoner of conscience Muzaffar Davlatmirov are still being denied information on where he is in jail.

KAZAKHSTAN: "Incomprehensible" bank account blocking

Kazakhstan maintains public lists of individuals and organisations allegedly connected to "terrorism or extremism", and secret "high-risk" or "suspicious" organisation lists circulated to banks. Both lists lead to blocking and denial of bank accounts and numerous other problems. "We've written more than 10 letters to various state agencies," Protestant Pastor Pyotr Shelepanov of New Life Church in Talgar told Forum 18. "But we've had no real answer." His Church describes the denial of a bank account as "incomprehensible".

TURKMENISTAN: Muslim prisoners of conscience transferred to new labour camps

Five Sunni Muslims jailed in Balkanabat for 12 years each in August 2017 for meeting to study the works of the theologian Said Nursi were in mid-2022 transferred to new labour camps. The strict-regime labour camp at Bayramali in Mary Region, where four of the five are held, also holds another jailed Nursi reader, 47-year-old Begench Dadebayew. At least two among more than 60 men jailed from 2013 for participating in a Sunni Muslim group in Turkmenabat have been freed after completing their jail terms.

TAJIKISTAN: Restrictions continue for Muslims, intrusive questionnaires for non-Muslims

The regime closed all Islamic bookshops in Dushanbe in August and September, as well as some publishers of Islamic literature. The regime has also continued demands that non-Muslim religious communities complete intrusive questionnaires. Some suggested family information is being collected "so that it will be easy to identify us and our family members if in future they decide to target us". "All mosques are under total state control," human rights defenders observed, "so the regime does not need to insist that mosques complete such questionnaires."

TAJIKISTAN: Ismaili religious leader jailed, prayer houses closed

On 3 August, 8 days after the NSC secret police arrested Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a respected 59-year-old Ismaili religious leader, Badakhshan Regional Court jailed him for 5 years for alleged "public calls for extremist activity". "Davlatmirov is not an extremist, and did not call for 'extremist' activity," a local person who knows him told Forum 18. His relatives and friends do not know where he is serving his sentence. There are now at least 7 prisoners of conscience known to be jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief, one a Jehovah's Witness and the others Muslim. The regime has also closed all Ismaili prayer houses in Mountainous Badakhshan, and the Ismaili Education Centre in Khorugh.

UZBEKISTAN: "Go on dreaming!" prison governor replies to tortured prisoner of conscience's medical need

Prisoner of conscience Fazilkhoja Arifkhojayev is being forced to do work he cannot medically do, damaging his spine even more. He has been repeatedly tortured, and when the family asked Prison Governor Oybek Tishayev personally whether they could arrange medical care at their own cost, or as required by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules) the prison could arrange the necessary specialist medical care. Tishayev replied: "Go on dreaming!"

KAZAKHSTAN: 75 Tabligh Jamaat adherents criminally convicted since 2015

Secret police raided the homes of Sarsen Netekov and Nurlan Atalykov, seizing 150 religious books and accusing them of membership of the banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat. In March, an Atyrau court handed them one-year restricted freedom terms, bringing to 75 the number of alleged Tabligh Jamaat members known to have been criminally convicted since 2015. It also ordered the books destroyed. Asked why officers raided the men's homes and seized religious literature, the secret police in Atyrau responded: "We don't give out such information."