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KAZAKHSTAN: 104 administrative prosecutions in January-June 2019 – list

By Felix Corley, Forum 18—Administrative prosecutions to punish exercising freedom of religion or belief appear to be rising. At least 104 cases were brought between January and June to punish unapproved worship, sharing faith, selling religious literature and items in shops or online, or using “Amen” in mosque worship. In three cases, courts ordered seized religious literature to be destroyed.

Kazakhstan’s authorities are known to have brought at least 104 administrative prosecutions in the first six months of 2019 to punish 102 individuals, one religious community and one company for their exercise of freedom of religion or belief. Of these, 92 ended with convictions, with 86 individuals and one company being fined.
The 104 administrative cases in the first six months of 2019 represent an increase in the rate of prosecutions. In the whole of 2018, 169 such prosecutions are known to have been brought.

Punishments included not only fines but temporary bans on activity, a permanent ban on a meeting place for worship, and seizures and destruction of religious literature, according to a review of the known January to June 2019 cases compiled by Forum 18 (see full list below).

Muslims, Protestants (especially Council of Churches Baptists), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and commercial and private sellers were many of the targets of these prosecutions.

Fines were the equivalent of between three weeks’ and four months’ average wages for those in formal work (35 to 200 Monthly Financial Indicators, MFIs, 88,375 Tenge to 505,000 Tenge in 2019).

Many of the prosecutions were to punish meetings for worship without state permission. Bolat Isabayev was fined for leading a home worship meeting in Kandyagash on the most sacred day annually for Jehovah’s Witnesses. A court fined two ethnic Azeri imams in Zhambyl Region for maintaining funeral prayer rooms without state approval. Police fined or tried to fine up to 20 members of Karaganda’s Revival Protestant Church after raiding a birthday party.

In three cases, courts ordered seized religious literature to be destroyed: 29 Muslim books seized from a commercial seller in Kyzylorda; 18 Islamic books seized from another commercial seller also in Kyzylorda; and 2 Islamic books a visitor from Kyrgyzstan had in her luggage.

Administrative prosecutions are known to have been brought in January to June 2019 (with comparisons to the full 2018 and 2017calendar years) to punish:

– 28 (26 individuals, 1 community and 1 company) for meeting for worship, hosting such meetings or maintaining places for such meetings (39 in 2018, 88 in 2017).

– 7 individuals for offering religious literature to others for free (10 in 2018, 39 in 2017).

– 22 individuals for offering religious literature, icons or other items for sale (33 in 2018, 58 in 2017).

– 20 individuals for offering religious items for sale online (18 in 2018, 10 in 2017).

– 16 individuals for posting religious materials online (23 in 2018, 12 in 2017).

– 2 individuals for trying to import religious literature (0 in 2018, 4 in 2017).

– 3 individuals for sharing faith with others (17 in 2018, 31 in 2017).

– 4 Muslims for praying in mosques in ways that the state-controlled Muslim Board has banned, for example by using the word “Amen” (21 in 2018, 22 in 2017, the first year such punishments were imposed).

– 2 individuals for teaching their faith (3 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

No religious leaders are known to have been prosecuted for allowing children to be present or conducting religious rites against the wishes of one parent (1 in 2018, 9 in 2017).

No religious communities are known to have been prosecuted for “inadequate” security or security measures for their places of worship, for example not having enough video cameras (2 in 2018, 5 in 2017).

No individuals are known to have been prosecuted for failing to pay earlier fines to punish them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief (2 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

No foreign citizens are known to have been ordered deported (1 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

A total of 88 of the 104 January to June 2019 cases were heard in court, but 16 fines are known to have been summarily handed down by police (the total number could be higher). All the known police fines were in Karaganda, Kyzylorda or Taraz.

Of the 102 administrative cases known to have been brought against individuals in 2019, 68 were against men and 34 against women. Women represented more than half of individuals prosecuted to punish offering religious literature and other items for sale in shops and online.

Of the 102 known administrative prosecutions against individuals in 2019, at least 3 began as cases under Criminal Code Article 174 (“Incitement of social, national, clan, racial, or religious discord, insult to the national honour and dignity or religious feelings of citizens, as well as propaganda of exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on grounds of their religion, class, national, generic or racial identity, committed publicly or with the use of mass media or information and communication networks, as well as by production or distribution of literature or other information media, promoting social, national, clan, racial, or religious discord”).

The administrative cases in these 3 cases were launched when prosecutors decided not to pursue the Criminal Code Article 174 cases.

Full list of known January to June 2019 administrative prosecutions

The list of 103 known January to June 2019 administrative prosecutions below is based on court decisions and other information reaching Forum 18. It includes the date of initial decision by lower court/police, name of defendant, affiliation, court/police issuing decision, Administrative Code Article, reason for prosecution, outcome:

– Punishing unapproved meetings, rituals

Known administrative cases: 28
Known convictions: 22
200 MFI fines (4 months’ average wage): 1
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 4
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 1
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 13
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 2
Verbal warning: 1
3-month bans: 2
Permanent bans: 1

Muslims: 5
Protestants: 18 (all Council of Churches Baptists)
Jehovah’s Witnesses: 3
Hare Krishna community: 1
Companies: 1

Article 489, Part 9 punishes “Leadership of an unregistered, halted, or banned religious community or social organisation” with a fine of 100 MFIs.

Article 489, Part 10 punishes “Participation in an unregistered, halted, or banned religious community or social organisation” with a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 1 punishes “violation of procedures established in law for conducting rites, ceremonies and meetings”. Punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs, and for organisations a fine of 200 MFIs and a three-month ban on activity.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 4 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. building places of worship (facilities), or changing the usage (altering the functional designation) of buildings (facilities) into ritual buildings (facilities)”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 5 January 2019, Bakyt Sattarova, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (reduced to 35 MFI fine on second appeal)

2) 5 January 2019, Aleksandr Shartner, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

3) 5 January 2019, Sergei Bogovenko, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

4) 5 January 2019, Aleksei Bykov, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

5) 5 January 2019, Olga Shartner, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

6) 5 January 2019, Nadezhda Bogovenko, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

7) 5 January 2019, Larisa Chachanidze, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

8) 30 January 2019, Vera Pastukhova, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

9) 30 January 2019, Aleksandr Belyayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

10) 31 January 2019, Aleksei Li, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

11) 15 February 2019, Yakov Fot, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

12) 15 February 2019, Viktor Fot, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine (changed on appeal to verbal warning)

13) 16 February 2019, Valery Skorobogaty, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

14) 28 February 2019, Eduard Neifeld, Council of Churches Baptist, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3 (Article 490, Part 1, Point 1 excluded), participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

15) 3 March 2019, Vitaly Ryzhkov, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

16) 3 March 2019, Yuliya Ivanova, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

17) 3 March 2019, Petr Skornyakov, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

18) 7 March 2019, Atyrau Hare Krishna Community, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, meeting for worship, case sent back

19) 18 March 2019, Otabek Khaldarov, Muslim, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, opening prayer room in cafeteria, 50 MFI fine

20) 15 April 2019, Sanzharbek Abuvakhidov, Muslim, Sairam District Court, Article 490, Part 1, operating an unregistered prayer room, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

21) 19 April 2019, Sergei Merkulov, Jehovah’s Witness, Glubokoe District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, hosting unregistered meetings for worship, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

22) 24 April 2019, Svetlana Demina, Protestant, Karaganda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, praying before husband’s birthday meal at home, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired (fined in November 2018 for same event, but fine annulled on appeal)

23) 2 May 2019, Sergei Nurmanov, Jehovah’s Witness, Taranovsky District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 35 MFI fine

24) 14 May 2019, Sarvaz Dzhamalov, Muslim, Merke District Court, Article 490, Part 3, operating an unregistered funeral prayer room, 70 MFI fine

25) 16 May 2019, Fakhradin Ismailov, Muslim, Merke District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, operating an unregistered funeral prayer room (registration application rejected), 50 MFI fine

26) 16 May 2019, Mak Group Shopping Centre, company, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, operating an unregistered prayer room, 200 MFI fine plus ban on prayer room

27) 6 June 2019, Bolat Isabayev, Jehovah’s Witness, Mugalzhar District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, participating in unregistered meeting for worship on Memorial of Christ’s Death, 35 MFI fine

28) 11 June 2019, Gulammakhambet Taumanuly, Muslim, Zhetysai District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 4, opening unapproved prayer room, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing offering free religious literature

Known administrative cases: 7
Known convictions: 7
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 5
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 2
3-month bans: 2

Protestants: 7 (including 5 Council of Churches Baptists)

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 7 February 2019, Feruza Akynbekova, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, offering New Testament on the street, 50 MFI fine (reduced to 35 MFIs on appeal)

2) 26 March 2019, Pavlo Omelich, Council of Churches Baptist, Baizak District Court, Article 490, Part 3, offering Christian literature, 100 MFI fine, changed on appeal to Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, 50 MFI fine

3) 29 March 2019, Yury Kiryushkin, Council of Churches Baptist, Magzhan Zhumabayev District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian literature, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

4) 1 April 2019, Viktor Gizbrecht, Christian, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and other Christian books for free online, 50 MFI fine

5) 15 April 2019, Dmitry Mankov (aged 20), Council of Churches Baptist, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian books for free, 35 MFI fine

6) 17 April 2019, Valentina Rakhmanova, Protestant, Zyryanovsk District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and other Christian books for free, 50 MFI fine

7) 3 May 2019, Dmitry Isayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Berli District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian books on the street, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

– Punishing offering religious literature, items for sale

Known administrative cases: 22
Known convictions: 18
Initial criminal cases (Article 174): 1
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 4
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 13
Verbal warnings: 1
3-month bans: 13
Literature destruction orders: 2

Commercial traders: 21
Muslims: 1

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 22 January 2019, Sergei Belov, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items (including icons, Buddha figures) for sale, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

2) 24 January 2019, Yelena Makhracheva, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books and items for sale, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

3) 19 February 2019, Kairbek Tolegenuly, commercial seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1 investigation), offering Sunni and Sufi Islamic books and items for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

4) 20 February 2019, Svetlana Titova, commercial seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian prayer books, icons and candles for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine

5) 13 March 2019, Farkhad Zhapparkulov, commercial seller, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Muslim books for sale on street, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

6) 15 March 2019, Zhenisbek Baitabynov, Muslim, Munaily District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale, 50 MFI fine

7) 28 March 2019, Murat Zhumaguliyev, commercial seller, Beineu District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at market, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

8) 1 April 2019, Murat Kabdullin, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on selling religious literature

9) 12 April 2019, Begzod Ismaildzhanov, Muslim, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at railway station, 50 MFI fine

10) 17 April 2019, Andrei Shelestov, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of section of shop

11) 24 April 2019, Sabit Kenzhegulov, Muslim, Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at railway station, 35 MFI fine

12) 2 May 2019, Nursultan Rakhimgozhin, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of shop

13) 3 May 2019, Zauresh Kasymova, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on selling religious literature

14) 8 May 2019, Aruzhan Omirbai, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus destruction of 29 Muslim books

15) 29 May 2019, Togzhan Boken, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious literature and discs for sale, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired

16) 31 May 2019, Baurzhan Kudabayev, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items for sale, acquitted

17) 6 June 2019, Talgatbek Nazarov, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering items with Arabic inscriptions for sale, acquitted

18) 6 June 2019, Saltanat Zhakipova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious literature, prayer mats and other items for sale, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired

19) 11 June 2019, Saltanat Koszhanova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items for sale, verbal warning

20) 12 June 2019, Gulmira Kulumbetova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 18 Islamic books, a prayer mat and other items for sale, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus destruction of books

21) 12 June 2019, Shin Raisa Du-Se, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering one cross and one crescent jewellery items for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of shop

22) 26 June 2019, Marina Shirokova, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing offering religious literature, items for sale online

Known administrative cases: 20
Known convictions: 20
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 1
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 16
Verbal warnings: 3
3-month bans: 5 or 6
1-month bans: 3 or 4
Literature retention orders: 2

Private sellers: 20

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 11 January 2019, Dana Rakhimzhanova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious book for sale online, 35 MFI

2) 25 January 2019, Nurbergen Kunchekeyev, seller, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Muslim book by Elmir Kuliyev for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

3) 25 January 2019, Yelena Maslova, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible inherited from grandmother for sale online (“expert” analysis showed Bible did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

4) 13 February 2019, Gennady Vasilyev, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and Christian booklet for sale online (“expert” analysis showed their content did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine

5) 20 February 2019, Yekaterina Kislitsyna, seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering icon of Jesus Christ for sale online (“expert” analysis showed icon’s content did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine

6) 6 March 2019, Oleg Lobanov, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian children’s book for sale online (“expert” analysis showed it did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

7) 12 March 2019, Natalya Alekseyeva, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering for sale online 1913 German-language Bible inherited from grandmother, 50 MFI fine plus Bible to be retained by Anti-Extremism Police

8) 18 March 2019, Yelena Glushchenko, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering for sale online 1905 issue of Russian Orthodox “Church News”, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

9) 27 March 2019, Dmitry Molozhenko, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online for 1,000 Tenge (“expert” analysis showed Bible did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

10) 28 March 2019, Yelizaveta Volzhinina, seller, Oskemen Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering embroidered picture of mother and child for sale online, 35 MFI fine

11) 1 April 2019, Oksana Malkova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Koran for sale online, 35 MFI

12) 19 April 2019, Bayan Tusupova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering children’s Bible in Russian and German for sale online, 35 MFI

13) 23 April 2019, Olga Savoskina, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering icon for sale online, verbal warning

14) 25 April 2019, Nadezhda Borovskikh, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online for 10,000 Tenge (5 days’ pension equivalent) to supplement pension (invalid husband), verbal warning

15) 30 April 2019, Galina Smirnykh, seller, Aksu City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online, 35 MFI fine

16) 13 May 2019, Zarina Kazbekova, seller, Shal Akyn District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Koran for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

17) 16 May 2019, Madina Koisariyeva, seller, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 4 Korans for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

18) 21 May 2019, Irina Buravinskaya, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 2 icons for sale online for 8,000 Tenge (10 days’ invalid pension equivalent) (“expert” analysis showed icons’ content did not violate Constitution), verbal warning

19) 21 May 2019, Daniyar Murzabayev, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 1907 Arabic-language Koran inherited from grandmother for sale online for 5 million Tenge (“expert” analysis was unable to review the Koran because they did not know Arabic), 35 MFI fine plus 1- or 3-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

20) 12 June 2019, Rano Tuzelova, seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 3 Korans in Arabic for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus retention of 3 Korans

– Punishing posting religious materials online

Known administrative cases: 16
Known convictions: 15
Initial criminal cases (Article 174): 2
200 MFI fines (4 months’ average wage): 1
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 1
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 2
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 5
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 6
3-month bans: 5
Bans of unspecified duration: 1

Muslims: 16

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

Article 490, Part 8 punishes repeat violations of the Religion Law within one year, with fines on individuals of 200 MFIs.

1) 9 January 2019, Erlan Mukanov, Muslim, Taiynsha District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial investigation under Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1), posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

2) 15 January 2019, Azamat Orazly, Muslim, Satbayev District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 100 MFI fine

3) 30 January 2019, Duman Suleimenov, Muslim, Satbayev District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 100 MFI fine (reduced to 70 MFIs on appeal)

4) 11 February 2019, Zhalgas Nazyrbekov, Muslim, Zhezkazgan City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

5) 12 February 2019, Ardak Aubakirov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

6) 12 February 2019, Nurbol Baigenzhinov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1 or 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

7) 18 February 2019, Nurbol Ibraimov, Muslim, Zhezkazgan City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

8) 4 April 2019, Azat Komutov, Muslim, Abai District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 70 MFI fine

9) 10 April 2019, Shingis Sabitov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

10) 2 May 2019, Ernur Toleubekov, Muslim, Temirtau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

11) 8 May 2019, Sairan Abdugaliyev, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial Criminal Code Article 174 investigation), posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

12) 15 May 2019, Yerken Akanov, Muslim, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 8 (second “offence” within one year), sharing religious materials on WhatsApp, 200 MFI fine and ban on distributing religious literature

13) 27 May 2019, Abdurrakhim Termaliyev, Muslim, Mamlyut District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

14) 30 May 2019, Kaisar Serik, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

15) 11 June 2019, Adil Mendygaliyev, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, sent back for reclassification under different Article

16) 21 June 2019, Farkhad Zhauyrbekov, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on social media account

– Punishing trying to import religious literature

Known administrative cases: 2
Known convictions: 2
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 2
Literature destruction orders: 1

Muslims: 1
Traders: 1

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 3 January 2019, Gulsanam Katkeldiyeva, Muslim (Kyrgyz citizen), Zhambyl District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, having 2 Islamic books in luggage entering Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan, 50 MFI fine plus book destruction

2) 20 June 2019, Makhmadgafuri Olimzoda, trader (Tajik citizen), Beineu District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, 36 of 490 books he brought through Kazakh border in transit to Russia for resale were religious, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing sharing faith

Known administrative cases: 3
Known convictions: 3
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 3

Protestants: 3 (all Council of Churches Baptist)

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 12 April 2019, Nikolai Novikov, Council of Churches Baptist (court decision wrongly describes him as Jehovah’s Witness), Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

2) 22 April 2019, Dmitry Isayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

3) 23 April 2019, Andrei Labinsky, Council of Churches Baptist, Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

– Punishing violating mosques’ internal rules

Known administrative cases: 4
Known convictions: 3
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 2
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 1

Muslims: 4

Article 490, Part 2 punishes: “Impeding lawful religious activity as well as violation of the civil rights of physical persons on grounds of their religious views or insulting their feelings or profanation of items, buildings and places revered by followers of any religion, unless there are signs of criminally punishable actions”. The punishment for individuals is 50 MFIs, and for legal entities 200 MFIs.

1) 12 February 2019, Nariman Bagirov, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 50 MFI fine

2) 19 March 2019, Erbolat Gazimov, Muslim, Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 50 MFI fine

3) 20 March 2019, Dauren Kaiyrov, Muslim (18 years old), Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 35 MFI fine

4) 22 April 2019, Abai Ospanov, Muslim, Taraz Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, acquitted

– Punishing religious teaching

Known administrative cases: 2
Known convictions: 2
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 2

Muslims: 2

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 10 April 2019, Mukhtar Gadzhiyev, Muslim, Article 490, Part 3, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, teaching religion to children in charity, 70 MFI fine

2) 10 April 2019, Darkhan Shilmanbetov, Muslim, Article 490, Part 3, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, teaching religion to children in charity, 70 MFI fine

(END)

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

Seven Christians Detained For ‘Illegal’ Christmas Service

LAOS- Christians in southern Laos faced a grim New Year after seven believers including church leaders were detained by the Communist government’s security forces during violent church raids, reported Stefan J. Bos for (BosNewsLife).

Sirikoon Prasertsee, who leads the advocacy group Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), said the detentions occurred late Saturday, December 29, when police stormed a Christmas church service in Nakanong Village located in the Phin District of Savannakhet Province.

He said three male church leaders, identified as Akeo, Kert, and Somwang, were first moved to the regional police headquarters. Police returned to the church and detained 4 more Christian men. “They were led away to the Phin district police headquarters,” Prasertsee said.

Shortly after BosNewsLife made the international community aware of their arrest, the seven were released.

CHURCH DAMAGES

Security forces also “demolished the stage, cut off the power line, destroyed the sound system, and seized 3 mobile phones,” according to HRWLRF, which represents Christians in the area.

Police are reportedly charging the Christians with the “illegal gathering for a Christmas church service without state permission.” 

The HRWLRF said it had urged the Lao government to release immediately and unconditionally the seven Lao Christians and pay for the damages to the physical properties of the church. It was not immediately clear when and how the government would react to these demands.

However, the detentions are the latest in a series of incidents targeting Christians in Laos.

Activists and local Christians say the persecution is partly linked to concerns within the Communist party and movement Pathet Lao, which has ruled the Southeast Asian nation since 1975, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict regime aligned with Vietnam.

Communists view the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power base and way of thinking, BosNewsLife established.

INCREASED MONITORING 

“The government has recently made efforts to increase the monitoring of illegal house churches with the help of registered churches, resulting in the arrest and detention of Christian believers,” said advocacy group Open Doors.

“Provincial and local authorities hinder Christian activity. They often cooperate with community leaders like Buddhist monks to put pressure on Christians, especially converts. Families of converts heavily contribute to this persecution within the home.”

Christians comprise less than two percent of the mainly Buddhist population of over 7 million people, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The detentions come despite reported Western-style reforms in other areas such as the limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment which began in 1988. Laos also became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2013.

In a statement to BosNewsLife, the HRWLRF urged the Lao government to respect “the right of the Lao people to religious freedom and the accompanying rights as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009.”

Under these laws, the individual has the right to adopt a religion or belief of choice and the freedom to “manifest that religion or belief” publicly. ——

Christianity is considered a Western influence and especially dangerous by the Communist Party in Laos. Authorities heavily monitor all religious activities, including those of registered Christian churches, religious gatherings must be reported beforehand. House churches are forced to operate illegally, in secret.

Buddhist teachings are often considered part of Lao “cultural education,” and included in the curriculum at some schools. In one case, Christian students were required to attend a Buddhist temple ritual.

Converts to Christianity become outsiders within their Buddhist-animist communities, pressured by Buddhist monks, family members and local authorities to recant their new faith. Some believers are arrested and detained when caught engaging in illegal church activities, or when Bibles or other Christian literature are discovered. Others are threatened, fined or beaten in an attempt to make them renounce their faith.

  • Pray that Christians would have wisdom in witnessing to their Buddhist neighbors and family members. Pray that their efforts would be well received.
  • Pray that Christians in Laos would be able to freely access Bibles and register churches. Pray also that Christian children in Buddhist schools would not be discriminated against and receive low marks simply because of their faith.
  • Laos is one of the five remaining Marxist-Leninist countries in the world, and as such, it is strictly opposed to any influence deemed foreign or Western. The Communist Party puts enormous pressure on the small Christian minority. Please pray for increased openness and acceptance towards Christianity.

Islamic Cleric who led protest against Asia Bibi acquittal arrested

Police detained radical Islamic cleric and (TLP) chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who led protests that brought daily life to a halt following the Supreme Court acquittal of Asia Bibi. On Friday, authorities began a nationwide crackdown and arrested over 1000 leaders and supporters of the Islamist party. The cleric’s arrest ignited violent clashes with police and several people were injured. A majority of the arrests took place in the province of Punjab, headquarters of the extremist Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party. They alleged the crackdown against the party and its leadership was to prevent them from protesting the acquittal.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry dismissed those claims. He explained that Rizvi had been placed under “protective custody” because he refused to withdraw a fresh call for street protests on Sunday and turned down offers to organize the rally at a place proposed by the government. “It’s to safeguard public life, property and order and has to do nothing with Asia Bibi case.” The minister called for the public to remain “peaceful and calm and “the law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals.”

The charity Aid to the Church in Need stays in contact with Asia’s family. The charity spokesman, John Pontifex , relayed that the situation is constantly changing. In a recent conversation, the family told him that people were going door-to-door showing their pictures and asking if people had seen them.

Asia is currently in protective custody, pending an appeal lodged by the religious extremist TLP party against her acquittal.

Eisham Ashiq spoke publicly for the first time from a safe house in Pakistan since her mother was acquitted of blasphemy. Please keep Asia, her family, Christians in Pakistan and the nation in your prayers.

Thai immigration separate Christian families moving mothers and children to another facility

(Voice of the Persecuted) by VOP Thai correspondent—Pakistani Christian women and young children have been moved from the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) in Suan Phlu to another detention camp near Don Mueang airport on the outer suburbs of Bangkok.

The women and children were moved on Friday, November 2nd 2018 about 30 km away from the initial detention center.

Not only deprived of liberty and abode but denied the basic and decent life, every human being deserves. Inhumane treatment of Pakistani Christians in Thailand is a huge question mark towards the UN and other aid agencies.

Earlier this month, all bails were cancelled except women with minors. Majority of the bails were granted in 2015 with the condition that bailed individuals would report every two weeks to the IDC with their guarantor.  Now with essentially all bails cancelled, the numbers inside the IDC have soared.

There are no reports about the condition in the new detention camp but this move has robbed them of the opportunity of seeing their loved ones during daily visits.

Daily visitation from individuals and charities gives the families some time to meet their loved ones who are held in separate areas. This is also the only time when detainees are allowed to get out of the shady and horrendous room which they share with more than 200 people.

During visiting hours, visitors submit an application to meet with one detainee and are given one hour in a hall separated by a metal fence while  shouting to hear one another over other voices. The meeting area provides an opportunity to fathers, sons, husbands to meet their children, mother and wives during that hour.

Family day, which was scheduled once a month, also provided time for to families to meet and cherish some memories. Men and women are kept in separate areas in the facility.

We’re not denying that lowering the numbers in one facility would improve the environment of an already horrific place at normal capacity. However, with the women and children in another detention center, the hope of seeing their loved ones seems very bleak.

What is the Immigration Detention Center?

The main Immigration Detention Center is a small, two story building in the heart of Bangkok’s embassy district. The rooms are designed to hold overstayed migrants in small rooms. Refugees, though internationally protected, are considered illegal under Thai law,  arrested and incarcerated in the detention center for an indefinite period of time.

Pakistani Christians in Thailand have been deeply traumatized by the Thai Immigration crackdown on illegal migrants. In one of the largest overhaul of migrants, refugees had to flee for their freedom, essentially their lives, as living in IDC is described as hell. Many had to seek shelter with their friends, locals and expats, to try to escape the wrath of the Immigration police.

Pakistani Christians need your prayers. Pray for their safety, security and safe resettlement to countries where they can live and practice their faith in Christ freely and call it home.

Project 133 relief mission

Please pray for them to remain steadfast in holding onto their faith. VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus.  Please consider helping our mission to cover these expenses and donate, today. Nutritional items, baby milk and diapers will be high on the list of needs. We may not be able to cover all expenses, but let us cover as many as we can! Your donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission and are gratefully appreciated by our persecuted family. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Christians in Sudan Charged in Defense of Church Property Case

(Morning Star News) – A court in Omdurman, Sudan on Wednesday (April 11) charged four Christians who defended church property from a takeover by a Muslim business interest, sources said.

Azhari Tumbara, Muna Matta, George Adam and Kudi Abderhman last year tried to keep authorities from seizing Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) property in Khartoum. Judge Adam Babiker charged the Christians with causing physical harm to police and supporters of a Muslim businessman who tried to take control of church school property in April 2017, the Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, SPEC moderator, told Morning Star News.

If found guilty under Article 142 of the Sudan Penal Code, the four Christians could be sentenced to a fine and a prison term of up to six months, said Attorney Adam Abu Anja, their legal counsel. Anja said he doubted they would receive the maximum sentence.

“I am confident – the charges are not that serious,” Anja told Morning Star News. “We have enough witnesses that, if they are convicted, they might be fined, that is all.”

A verdict could come at the next hearing on Monday (April 16).

On April 3, 2017, church elder Younan Abdullah died from injuries sustained in the raid by authorities and the Muslim business interest’s supporters on the school in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum. Abdullah, an elder with Bahri Evangelical Church, died in a hospital after being stabbed while he and others were defending women at the Evangelical School of Sudan, SPEC sources told Morning Star News.

He is survived by his wife and two young children.

Acquitted

At the same hearing on Wednesday (April 11), the judge cleared five church leaders accused in the church takeover case, including Pastor Nalu.

“Five of us were freed for lack of evidence,” Pastor Nalu said.

Pastor Nalu, the Rev. Idriss Kartina, the Rev. Zachariah Ismael, elder Bolus Tutu and Salim Hassan were acquitted.

On Feb. 5 a court in Sudan fined seven church leaders who fought the takeover of the school in Omdurman for “objection to authorities,” a church leader said. The court fined SPEC elder Yohanna Tia 5,000 Sudanese Pounds (US$275).

Tia was one of 26 church leaders who appeared in court over a two-week span in the case. Seven church leaders were ordered to pay fines of 2,500 Sudanese pounds (US$137) each, and 19 were freed for lack of evidence, according to Pastor Nalu.

Two pastors – the Rev. Dawoud Fadul, SPEC moderator, and Pastor Kartina – were also fined 2,500 Sudanese pounds each. Church elders Adam George, Bolus Tutu and one identified only as Azhari were also fined, along with school director Ustaz Dauod Musa Namnam.

On Aug. 15, 2017, police raided Pastor Nalu’s home and another belonging to SPEC leader. They evicted the families of Pastor Nalu and the Rev. Sidiq Abdalla, a SPEC pastor who has two children, ages 8 and 10. Pastor Nalu has a 1-year-old boy.

The action was considered part of the government-aided bid by Muslim businessman Hisham Hamad Al-Neel to take over church property. Police told the pastors they were carrying out a court order.

Leadership of SPEC remains in the hands of government-appointed committee members even after a court ruled in November 2016 that the appointments were illegal, sources said.

The Evangelical School of Sudan is one of several SPEC schools throughout Sudan.

In its campaign to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders say, Sudan has designated at least 25 church buildings for destruction.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fourth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

Pakistani Christian family arrested during publicized raid by the Thai Authorities

Thai immigration authorities bring along journalists during raid targeting refugees and asylum seekers.

(Voice of the Persecuted) November 21, 2017- This morning, VOP was notified that the Thai immigration police raided a condominium in Inthamara 44, Soi Pracha Suk, Din Daeng Distrcit in Bangkok and arrested a Pakistani Christian family.

Mr. Asif Ghouri, his wife along with their 3 grown children, son (Alisha Asif) and two daughters (Rebecca and Jasmine), were arrested during the raid around 3pm (local time).

Mr. Asif was surprised with a knock on the door and when they opened it, the officers were there along with journalists to record their arrest. The family was asked to show proof of identity, either passports or UNHCR cards. Their case had been dismissed by the UNHCR in the mid of 2017, hence their cards had been taken away. The UNHCR deemed they would be safe in Pakistan despite it being the 4th most dangerous country for Christians.

The police pressured them into showing proof of their identity. Mr. Asif had no choice but to give them their passports with no updated visas to stay in Thailand as they were living with UNHCR cards since 2014. Ultimately, the family was taken to the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) where they will live in misery and despair, fed nothing but a soupy mixture of cucumber and boiled rice. Based on the UNHCR decision in their case, the family won’t have any chance of being resettled to another country as all UNHCR portals would be inaccessible. They have no other option than to wait while fighting the feelings of hopelessness in finding freedom soon.

The IDC already hosts about 150 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers and refugees. Their arrest would make matters worse as they will have to struggle for space inside. Last month, about 35 refugees from Pakistan and Somalia were arrested from Bangkok including 12 children and 7 unaccompanied minors.

The Thai government claims it to be a crackdown on illegal people who are illegally employed. However, our correspondent in Thailand confirms that neither Mr. Asif nor the 35 arrested last month were working illegally in Thailand. This situation is truly alarming and the people need your prayers.

The actions by the Thai government should be condemned. The issue should be brought to the MPs to do more to bring the persecuted brothers and sisters to the United States and other countries. These countries should also step up to condemn this brutal act against our brothers and sisters in Christ.

UPDATE Dec. 4, 2017:  

Elias Asif ( arrestrd with the family last week) Fiaz Masih ( arrested from Pratunam Market, Phaya Thai District) Asher Ryan ( arrested from outside his apartment at Vivid Tower Pattanakarn 54 district Suan luang).

Two more Pakistani Christians were arrested on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017

VOP representative includes a message for our suffering brothers and sisters in the IDC

Please remember Pakistani Christian refugees seeking asylum in Thailand. Day by day, their situation grows more volatile with greater risks of arrest.

VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Please consider our mission, this Christmas, to help  care for a family and bring much needed supplies and nutrition to those suffering in the notorious IDC.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Donations always desperately needed

TURKEY TO DEPORT AMERICAN CHRISTIAN COUPLE AS ‘NATIONAL SECURITY RISK’

Norine and Andrew Brunson Photo: World Watch Monitor

Norine and Andrew Brunson Photo: World Watch Monitor

By Dani Miskell, Special to ASSIST News Service

IZMIR, TURKEY (ANS – October 19, 2016) — World Watch Monitor has reported of an arrest made on Friday October 7th of the American Christians, Andrew and Norine Brunson. The couple has been detained by Turkish officials in the coastal city of Izmir on grounds of conducting activities constituted as “national security risks.”

The Turkish Interior Ministry has both issued the arrest and subsequently ordered the Brunson’s to be deported within 15 days. They have declined to release any further details of the accusations they’re making on the Brunson’s. They’re declining to respond because official papers from Ankara, the Republic’s capital, hadn’t arrived yet.

The couple has been denied access to the U.S. consular officials and lawyers. Authorities at the Migration Administration Detention Facility sentenced them. This also is the location of where the Brunson’s are currently being held until their deportation.

According to Barbara G. Baker of WWM, the Brunson’s had been residents of Turkey for the last 20 years. They served as leaders of a small Protestant Church known as the Izmir Resurrection Church, in the Alsancak district. The couple had filed a routine application back in April to renew their residence visas. They never received a response until six months later, when they came home and found a written summons requesting them to report to a local police station, along with their passports. They did so on Friday October the 7th and were then immediately taken into custody.

In the last week, several attempts have been made on the Brunson’s behalf. One lawyer requested visitation but was denied access because he didn’t have legal authorization. He returned with an affidavit, but the officials claimed that the couple had already signed a statement declaring they didn’t want representation. They have yet to produce any written statements claiming this.

A second lawyer decided to act on the Brunson’s behalf and filed a petition to the Izmir governor, on Wednesday October 12th. It protested that the stipulations made against the American Christians were illegal under Turkish detention laws.

A member of the Turkish Parliament has also been reported to inquire about the handling of the couple’s detention.

Members of the Izmir Resurrection Church have attempted to send a change of clothes to the Brunson’s but were rebuffed by the detention center. The Brunson’s are reported be in the forties.

One of the church’s leaders reported that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara had confirmed of their involvement in “following the arrests,” but embassy officials are declining to comment at this time.

The Brunson’s current state is reportedly not the first of its kind. It’s a continuing pattern. There have been many cases similar to theirs over the past few years, where the Interior Ministry issued deportation orders against expatriate Christians living in Turkey. Others were more fortunate to have been permitted official access to their lawyers. There have been reports of those granted temporary stays of deportation along with a formal court appeal.

Another case similar to that of the Brunson’s is Canadian-American Christian, David Byle. Byle was taken into custody back in April. The Interior Ministry had also denied his application to renew his residence visa, and advised the immigration authorities to deport him on grounds of being a “danger to public order”. Byle has been helping educate the Turkish public about the Bible. He organizes legal street outreaches on behalf of a Bible Correspondence Course. His lawyers filed three cases against his arrest, deportation order, and re-entry ban. At this present time, they remain on hold due to the Turkish judicial anarchy in honor of supporting the Fetullah Gulen movement. Byle continues to live in Turkey during this interim.

First reports of the Interior Ministry’s harassment on American Christians date back to 2014. Patrick Jensen’s account occurred in September of 2014 while he was serving as an American Protestant Pastor in the Gaziantep City of southeast Turkey. He had been serving for nine years until the Interior Ministry blacklisted him two years ago and ordered for imminent deportation. It was overturned 2 months later by the Gaziantep Administrative Courts judicial decision.

The option of judicial review is being avoided in the case of the Brunsons’ deportation. They continue to be refused any legal rights in order to prevent their forced removal from Turkey. The recent failed military coup, on July 15th, has left Turkey in a “state of emergency.” Now the government in Ankara has had free rein to loosely implement policies and directives. Even if they have violated the principle rule of law, they are allowed free reign and their regulations aren’t expected to expire until mid-January 2017.

“They are never going to be happy with any foreigners doing Christian work in this country,” one Turkish church leader told Barbara G. Baker of World Watch Monitor. “So we have to take these government actions in proportion, realizing there are so many countries in this region where expatriate Christians can’t even go openly.”

VOP Prevents Arrested Christian Asylum Seekers From Going To Central Jail

Child arrested with mother on Christmas Eve

Child arrested with mother on Christmas Eve

(Voice of the Persecuted) Barely an hour after sharing a report on Christmas Eve highlighting persecuted Pakistani Christians in Thailand, we received a distressing call that more had been arrested including women and children. We immediately added that update to the earlier report. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to pay the overstay fees for 4 woman, including one who is pregnant and their children from going to the Central Jail. (Children between 8yr-3 months) They’re so grateful to you!

Child being comforted through cage of police van

Child being comforted through cage of police van

 

Thailand is not a member state of the of 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and the UNHCR has been powerless to protect them from arrest. The Thai government considers these persecuted believers as illegals in spite of the fact they’re documented registrants with the UNHCR as genuine asylum seekers. Asylum status often takes 5-6 years as they wait in fear to be resettled in a welcoming nation. They are unable to legally work and their children unable to attend school. These wait times are unbearably long, inhumane. Read our Dec. 15, 2015 report to learn more of what these persecuted believers are facing in Thailand.

Paying the overstay fees prevents them from being mixed in with the criminal element at the Central Jail, but they will still be taken to the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). The cost to bail them out of the IDC is much higher (approx. $1450USD at today’s exchange rate), but paying the bail guarantees they will not be rearrested for 2 years.

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The conditions in the IDC is horrifying and a place full of contagion. They’re fed a soupy mix with little nutritional value of cucumbers and rice in boiling water—nothing else. You can imagine the condition of those detained in only a few short weeks. Voice of the Persecuted was able to offer food relief to those suffering ‘inside’ 4 times last month. We are greatly concerned for their wellbeing, particularly the little ones, the pregnant women and their unborn babies.

It’s a very hard situation for Pakistani Christians in Thailand. Too many are living in fear, afraid to even go outside, unable to support their families. Those who work illegally are at greater risk of arrest, but what choice do they have? Voice of the Persecuted is paying monthly living/medical expenses for families suffering the greatest need. More cases are continually brought before us, but heartbreakingly unable to help them all. With your love and support, we’re praying that 2016 will see many more of our brothers and sisters covered and comforted by the Body of Christ, us!

If you are feeling led to bring hope to Christians suffering in Thailand please consider the following:

  • Cover the monthly living expenses for a family in great need. (approx $250+/- based on family size)
  • Provide bail to protect a persecuted believer from rearrest for two years. ($1450 based on exchange rate)
  • Food deliveries for the nutritional needs of those detained in the IDC. ($50 provides 2 meals a day for 4 people weekly – personal hygienic products such as soap, tooth brushes and paste are also much needed items.)
  • Donation of any amount which is always greatly appreciated.

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Thailand. Come with us on the mission through your gifts!

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Voice of the Persecuted - Project 13:3 Aid Mission

Voice of the Persecuted – Project 13:3 Aid Mission

 

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