Kashkumbayev Held in Pre-Trial Prison in Astana
9/20/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)-International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Pastor Bakhytzhat Kashkumbayev has been transferred to an Investigation Prison in Astana, Kazakhstan. His detention there has been extended to October 17. The government had refused to reveal his whereabouts, even to his family and lawyer, since his release from a psychiatric ward on September 2, 2013.
ICC sources have reported that Pastor Kashkumbayev has been moved to an Investigation Prison in Astana. Since his arrest in May, “No one has been allowed to see him. Not his family. Not even his lawyer,” a source wishing to remain anonymous told ICC last week. Felix Corley of Forum 18 reported that since Kashkumbayev’s discharge from the ward, the government had refused to answer questions of his whereabouts. Corley recently confirmed that Kashkumbayev has since been seen by his lawyer and that, “his detention has been extended by an Astana court on 12 September until 17 October.”
When or if a trial will occur and what the outcome might be still remains unclear. What is painfully clear, however, is that this elderly pastor who suffers from numerous health conditions is being held in violation of his religious rights. Kazakhstan prides itself on religious freedom; however each day that Pastor Kashkumbayev is wrongfully detained, it is those very rights he is denied.
The treatment of Pastor Kashkumbayev may become a disturbing pattern of how Kazakhstan treats religious dissidents under the new, controversial religion law. The law, which was introduced in 2011, has wreaked havoc among the religious minorities, specifically evangelical Christians and Muslim sects. Churches’ legal rights to gather were revoked and Christians are arrested and fined for meeting together to pray without government permission. “We think it [persecution of Christians] will only get worse. The government broke the rights of all their people with the religion law,” a pastor, who wished to remain anonymous for safety, told ICC in September.
Jeff King, president of ICC says, “While we are glad that we have discovered Pastor Kashkumbayev’s whereabouts, he is still wrongfully imprisoned. We must create a virtual/digital siege around the Kazakhstan embassy with thousands of people demonstrating for the end of evil and brutality perpetrated against the innocent.”
To express your concern, please contact Kazakhstan’s U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C. at this number: 202-232-5488 from 9:.00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (EST). If you are not from the United States, please contact the Kazakhstan embassy in your country.
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