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Kazakhstan Baptists Fear More Persecution

Monday, August 6, 2007 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest

BUDAPEST/ASTANA (BosNewsLife) -- Baptist Christians in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan faced an uncertain weekend Saturday, August 4, amid reports that authorities barred a mother and her young child from entering their home because of their involvement in a Baptist church.

Since June 22 "court executors" sealed the Baptist church premises in the town of Shymkent to prevent the church from meeting, said well-informed human rights group Forum 18 citing Baptists.

The move followed the church's refusal to abide by a court order halting its activity because it does not wish to undergo state registration.

Elsewhere in Semey, Baptist Pastor Viktor Kandyba, his wife and their twelve children have been threatened with the seizure "of half their home" after he refused to pay a fine for leading an unregistered worship, Forum 18 said.

PROPERTIES SEIZED

"No-one appeared or summoned us on 18 July, but this could come at any time," Kandyba reportedly said. Cars and pigs have already been seized from other Baptists for non-payment of fines in this impoverished country, human rights watchers said.

Kazakhstan's senior religious affairs official, Yeraly Tugzhanov, has reportedly denied that the fines and seizure of property represent persecution. "No-one is being persecuted for their faith," he said.

There has been international concern about human rights violations under Kazakhstan's president. Elections in December 2005 returned Nursultan Nazarbayev for a further seven-year term with more than 90 percent of the votes. However international observers and the opposition protested the ballot saying it had been rigged.

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