In Kyrgyzstan, Muslims Harass Religious Minorities Who are Burying Their Dead

ICC Note:

Despite a Muslim imam’s confession that he led a “mob” to block the burial of a Christian in a public cemetery, authorities refuse to punish the imam. Forum 18 reported that the village leaders believe the incident was a “one-off” incident and that the most recent event was settled peacefully. The Christians involved, however, are still terrified after being threatened with assault if they continued to bury a fellow Christian. This is also not a “one-off” incident because religious minorities are increasingly asking Muslim relatives to conduct a Muslim funeral service to avoid conflict or bracing for threats. There are several incidents of mobs exhuming the bodies of religious minorities after burial, leaving the body on the doorstep of family, and refusing to allow the body to be buried again.  Unfortunately, fear is a powerful silencer and many other incidents go unreported, so the full extent of such persecution is not quantifiable.

02/02/2018 Kyrgyzstan (Forum 18) – Kyrgyzstan continues to refuse to defend residents wishing to bury their dead in the way they and the bereaved families wish. Mob rule backed by violence and threats continues to be a normal experience for such families which, along with the authorities’ complicity in such violations of the rule of law, causes families and friends great distress. One of the latest such known incidents took place in the village of Barskoon, in Jeti-Oguz District of the north-eastern Issyk-Kul [Ysyk-Kol] Region, local Protestants, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state and unofficial reprisals, told Forum 18 on 30 January.

The local imam, accompanied by what was described as a mob of young men and officials, refused to allow the burial of a Christian villager to take place. As soon as the imam was asked by local Christians by what authority he could do this, the mob also threatened local people that unless they stopped talking they would be beaten up. Forum 18 has been told that some villagers still fear for their lives and are very distressed (see below).

The imam admitted to Forum 18 that he had blocked the burial, but then denied all responsibility and tried to blame everything on the villagers (see below).

The village kenesh’s [council’s] legal expert claimed to Forum 18 that “it’s only a one-off incident. It was resolved peacefully”. Asked whether the village authorities or higher authorities had or would take any steps to punish the Imam or the mob, Toktogonov answered: “No. This is not a big problem” (see below).

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