21 June 2019
Kazakhstan has banned three books by authors associated with the banned Tabligh Jamaat Muslim missionary movement. A Prosecutor's Office official claimed to Forum 18 that the three books include calls to "extremism and terrorism", but neither the court nor "expert analyses" backed this. "We don't have censorship, we just check the content of religious publications," another official claimed.
18 April 2019
In addition to one Muslim on trial in Shymkent, 18 individuals are known to be currently jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. All are Sunni Muslim men. A further 11 are serving restricted freedom sentences. A further 13 are under post-jailing bans on specific activity. A further 28 who have completed sentences still have their bank accounts blocked.
16 April 2019
If convicted at his closed trial in Shymkent, 41-year-old Muslim Dilmurat Makhamatov faces up to 19 years' imprisonment. Kazakh police claimed he conducted "illegal preaching among Kazakhstanis via the internet" while in Saudi Arabia. After he was forcibly taken to Kazakhstan charges of "inciting religious hatred" and "propaganda of terrorism" were revealed. His friends reject the accusations. The trial resumes on 22 April.
22 March 2019
Police raided a third Baptist church in Taraz, summarily fining two more worshippers. Only one of five now fined did not appeal. "We don't pay fines voluntarily, so they'll take the money from his pension," a Baptist noted. Police raided a Hare Krishna meeting in Atyrau. Officials later withdrew the prosecution.
4 March 2019
Police in Taraz – including anti-terrorism officers – raided two Baptist worship meetings on successive Sundays in February. Police fined three Baptists and issued two warnings. Despite claiming "our laws don't ban praying", state religious affairs official Balgabek Myrzayev defended punishing people meeting for worship without state permission. A government minister has claimed that legal changes restricting freedom of religion and belief may be brought back in 2020.
1 March 2019
Germany rejected Kazakhstan's request to extradite Murat Bakrayev for talks on Islam Kazakhstan insists incited hatred and terrorism. A Kazakh judge ordered Muslim books destroyed, including a hadith collection. A Kazakh court rejected Muslim prisoner of conscience Kuanysh Bashpayev's request for conditional release after earlier torture.
27 February 2019
Forcibly returned from Saudi Arabia in December 2018, Dilmurat Makhamatov is in pre-trial detention in Shymkent as the NSC secret police investigate him for allegedly "inciting religious hatred" and "propaganda of terrorism" for remarks on Islam. The NSC investigator repeatedly refused to discuss Makhamatov's case with Forum 18.
14 February 2019
A Balkhash court jailed Abilai Bokbasarov for three years to punish him for meetings about Islam. It also banned him from exercising freedom of religion for five years after his term, the equal longest such ban. A judge refused to explain what he will be banned from doing. The government withdrew proposed further legal freedom of religion and belief restrictions.
1 February 2019
Full list of 171 known administrative prosecutions in 2018 to punish exercising freedom of religion or belief. Of these, 143 ended up with punishments, including fines, worship bans, seizures and destruction of religious literature, short-term jail terms and one deportation.
31 January 2019
In 171 known administrative prosecutions in 2018, 143 individuals, religious communities, charities and companies were punished for worship meetings, offering religious literature and pictures (including online), sharing or teaching faith, posting material online, praying in mosques, allowing a parent to bring a child to meetings, or inadequate security measures.
17 January 2019
A Judge ordered destroyed 85 Islamic booklets seized from an individual for offering them for sale without state permission, telling Forum 18 he "doesn't need" them. Another court ordered "Bible Stories" destroyed. "Sad", "ABSURD" and "not in accord with international standards" are some responses to these destruction orders.
7 December 2018
A court jailed 28-year-old father of one Dadash Mazhenov for over seven years for posting Islamic talks online, the second jailing by the same court. The secret police claimed the talks promoted terrorism, which both men reject. The judge sought to have Mazhenov's lawyer punished for "correctly defending the interests of his client".
30 October 2018
In April 2017 Kazakhstan jailed Kuanysh Bashpayev for later banned Islamic talks. Now Galymzhan Abilkairov, one of two who posted some of the talks online before the ban, has been jailed for seven years, seven months. Dadash Mazhenov's verdict is due on 5 November.
17 October 2018
Murat Bakrayev has not been in his native Kazakhstan since 2005, but Kazakhstan now wants his extradition from Germany on terrorism-related accusations. Family and friends say he is being detained and his extradition sought for refusing to join Kazakh state-controlled mosques and teaching Islam.
28 September 2018
Parliament's upper house adopted almost unchanged wide-ranging amendments to Kazakhstan's Religion Law and 10 other laws in both first and second readings on 27 September. The Amending Law – described by one Muslim as "extremely harsh" – returns to the lower house, the Majilis, before final adoption.
25 September 2018
Parliament's upper house is due to hold its first and possibly also second reading on 27 September of wide-ranging amendments to Kazakhstan's Religion Law and other laws. "This draft Law is extremely harsh, harms the rights of believers and should not be adopted in its current form," a Muslim told Forum 18.
4 September 2018
Kazakhstan restricts freedom of religion and belief, along with interlinked freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. Forum 18's survey analyses violations including increasing numbers of prisoners jailed for exercising freedom of religion and belief, with increasing types of "offences", prosecution numbers, and fine levels.
22 August 2018
On 3 September, Jambyl Regional Court is due to hear appeals by husband and wife Aidar Kharsanov and Zarina Manu against combined fines of more than four months' average wages. Police raided their home while they were teaching Koran to school-age girls and a lower court fined them.
26 July 2018
A judge in Aktobe Region punished seven Muslims with restricted freedom sentences of one to three years for holding religious meetings. Four were also given 120 hours' community service. A court has awarded compensation to atheist writer Aleksandr Kharlamov who was held for six months during a nearly six-year criminal investigation.
4 July 2018
Of 79 known administrative prosecutions in the first half of 2018 for exercising freedom of religion or belief, 61 ended with fines of up to four months' average wages. A quarter of those punished also received three-month bans on activity. Meeting for worship, offering religious literature and sharing faith without state permission triggered such punishments.
5 June 2018
Wide-ranging amendments to Kazakhstan's Religion Law and 11 other laws that seem set to increase still further the already tight restrictions on freedom of religion or belief begin consideration in Parliament's upper house. Working Group chair Sergei Ershov was unable to say if he would send the draft Law for an OSCE review.
30 May 2018
Kazakhstan's Human Rights Ombudsperson called on 2 May for the parliamentary Working Group considering the wide-ranging amendments to the Religion Law and other laws to send them for an OSCE legal review. The Working Group head rejected this. The amendments, now adopted by the lower house, are likely to reach the Senate soon, but the public has no access to the text.
22 May 2018
Three Muslims who drank tea, prayed and discussed their faith have failed to overturn their three-year jail terms on appeal. The men's bank accounts are likely now to be blocked and they owe a large sum in court fees. Their jailing means 65 alleged Tabligh Jamaat members have been convicted since 2015.
18 May 2018
After prisoner of conscience Imam Abdukhalil Abduzhabbarov's transfer to a harsher prison he is held in solitary confinement with one short daily exercise period, and can have only two two-hour meetings with relatives a year. He is only occasionally allowed to read the Koran.
20 April 2018
Kazakhstan's national schoolgirl headscarf ban is being legally challenged by a group of Muslim parents, whose daughters have been banned from school for wearing a headscarf. In their interpretation of Islam, they argue, wearing a headscarf is compulsory. Officials deny a headscarf problem exists.
11 April 2018
A Kazakh regional Religious Affairs Department has demanded the personal data of everyone under 18 who attends Christian meetings for worship. "It was not sent to Muslims, for example, just to Christians, and selectively", an official stated. She refused to explain what "selectively" means.
5 April 2018
Transferred by train from Pavlodar labour camp to cancer hospital in Almaty, Jehovah's Witness pensioner Teymur Akhmedov was pardoned and freed on 4 April. Prosecutors say a criminal case against a Protestant pastor will "soon" be closed down. Prosecutors are still investigating a five-year-old criminal case against an atheist. The trial of three Muslims continues in Karaganda.
26 March 2018
"Anti-extremism" police raided Kyzylorda's New Life Church, halted Sunday worship, filmed those present, and forced them to state why they attend. Teachers from a Special School questioned adult former students why they were present and insulted their faith. Pastor Serik Bisembayev faces criminal investigation for "inciting discord".
15 March 2018
Shymkent's New Life Protestant Church was fined for having three not five fire detectors in a storage building and banned for one month. The ban will go into force if the church's appeal fails. But the court acquitted a church member of helping an apparent police agent provocateur download a Bible onto her phone.
5 March 2018
Zholbarys Zhumanazarov – jailed for one year in Almaty Region for alleged membership of the Tabligh Jamaat Muslim missionary movement – became the 24th known individual given a criminal conviction in 2017 for exercising freedom of religion and belief. The criminal trial of three more begins in Karaganda on 12 March.
31 January 2018
Full list of 284 known administrative prosecutions in 2017 to punish exercising freedom of religion or belief. Of these, 263 ended up with punishments, including fines, a short-term jail term, deportations, worship bans, seizures and destruction of religious literature.
30 January 2018
In 284 known administrative prosecutions in 2017, 263 individuals, religious communities, charities and companies were punished for worship meetings, offering or importing religious literature and pictures (including online), sharing or teaching faith, posting material online, praying in mosques, allowing a parent to bring a child to meetings, inadequate security measures or failing to pay earlier fines.
12 January 2018
Three of six Muslims arrested in October 2017 have had pre-trial detention extended for two more months. All six face up to two years' imprisonment if convicted of involvement in missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat. A second United Nations body has called for Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience, cancer-sufferer Teymur Akhmedov to be freed.
29 November 2017
Amending Law imposing new restrictions on freedom of religion or belief is now with Prime Minister. If adopted, it will require re-registration of almost all religious communities, and impose new restrictions on and punishments for religious education, sharing beliefs, censorship of literature and (for state officials) participating in worship.
23 November 2017
Baptists in Ekibastuz have been fined and told that they "should not meet for worship until they register". Meetings for worship by Oskemen's New Life Church remain banned until 19 December after church members, relatives and friends sang religious songs without state permission. Officials would not explain why football fans don't need permission to publicly sing songs but religious believers do.
17 November 2017
Six Sunni Muslims arrested in Karaganda are under criminal investigation for alleged membership of a Muslim missionary movement. Three of them are in pre-trial detention. All known criminal cases against conscientious objectors have been dropped.
3 November 2017
A Baptist has been given a criminal conviction for refusal to pay a fine for – as the Constitution allows - handing out religious literature on the street. And the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for a prisoner of conscience's "immediate" release.
10 October 2017
More restrictions on exercising freedom of religion and belief may reach Parliament in December. The latest October draft includes restrictions on parents' and childrens' freedom, more sharing belief restrictions, and more censorship. The draft ignores previous UN Human Rights Committee and OSCE legal recommendations.
22 September 2017
Four Jehovah's Witness young men could face up to one year's imprisonment for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience if criminal investigations against them reach court. Military Conscription Offices rejected their certificates as religious ministers despite the law granting exemption to "clergy of registered religious associations".
6 September 2017
Courts banned worship by Almaty's Source of Life Protestant Church from April to July, Almaty's Jehovah's Witness Centre from August to November, and – if its appeal fails – Oskemen's New Life Protestant Church for three months. Jehovah's Witnesses described their ban as "a grossly disproportionate penalty".
29 August 2017
Sunni Imam Abdukhalil Abduzhabbarov was jailed for eight years for inciting religious hatred "with serious consequences", charges he denied. He is the 22nd individual convicted in 2017. Seven others jailed have failed in their appeals. One of two criminal cases against atheist Aleksandr Kharlamov has been closed.
18 August 2017
Legal amendments to 4 Codes and 13 Laws (including the already restrictive Religion Law) about to reach parliament seem set to impose further controls and punishments for non-state-approved religious teaching, confiscate religious literature which fails to pass the state censorship, and allow religious organisations to be banned.
15 August 2017
Tekeli Court in Almaty Region jailed 25-year-old Iliyan Raiymzhan for four years for alleged membership of Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat. The Prosecutor claimed "society suffered" because of Raiymzhan's exercise of freedom of religion, but refused to say how or identify any specific victims.
4 August 2017
After a Protestant Pastor and five foreign guests held baptisms in hot springs near Almaty, a court fined all six and ordered one foreigner deported, deeming they had conducted illegal "missionary activity". A Baptist pastor succeeded in overturning a police fine for leading his church.
3 August 2017
After Transport Police found nine Muslim books in an Astana Airport gift shop, a court fined the company and ordered the shop section closed for three months. This is one of 15 cases to punish freedom of religion so far in one court in 2017.
25 July 2017
Sunni Muslim Dmitry Tsilenko, jailed for three years for alleged membership of banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat, is the 20th individual known to have been criminally convicted in 2017 for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Imam Abdukhalil Abduzhabbarov's trial began on 25 July.
13 July 2017
Satymzhan Azatov was jailed for four years eight months for inciting religious discord and promoting terrorism, which he denied. He is the fourth Muslim who studied in Saudi Arabia convicted in 2017. The trial of Imam Abdukhalil Abduzhabbarov, punished in Investigation Prison for observing Ramadan, is imminent.
30 June 2017
Six months after arrest, six Sunni Muslims were jailed in Atyrau for between two and three years for sharing their faith, with post-prison bans on religious activity. Their bank accounts are likely to be frozen. They are among 18 known criminal convictions in 2017.
21 June 2017
At a closed trial in Atyrau in a secret police-initiated case, with the lawyers sworn to secrecy, six Sunni Muslims face possible years of imprisonment for talking to others of their faith. Jehovah's Witness cancer sufferer Teymur Akhmedov failed to overturn his five-year prison term.
15 June 2017
Sunni Muslim Nariman Seytzhanov was given five years' jail for "inciting religious discord" by talking about schools of Islam to Kazakh pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Satymzhan Azatov's trial on similar charges continues in Astana on 21 June. Five years' suspended sentence handed down in Almaty.