KAZAKHSTAN: “Social justice” the Kazakh way
“Nikolai Novikov has been fined three times in two years, jailed for five days, placed on Kazakhstan’s exit ban list (with a restraining order placed on his car) and now faces his garage being confiscated. The Baptist from West Kazakhstan Region refuses to pay any of the fines imposed for meeting for worship without state permission.”
By Felix Corley
1/12/2015 Kazakhstan (Forum 18)-Fined three times in two years, imprisoned for five days, and placed on Kazakhstan’s exit ban list (and with a restraining order imposed on his car) for exercising his right to freedom of religion or belief, Council of Churches Baptist Nikolai Novikov is facing a further punishment: the confiscation of his garage. On 5 January he received a restraining order on his garage from Court bailiff Erkebulan Andakulov, as well as an order to establish its value ahead of a forced public sale to pay off at least one of the fines, Novikov told to Forum 18 News Service on 12 January.
The 34-year-old Baptist Novikov, who lives with his wife and four young children in Oral (Uralsk) in West Kazakhstan Region, refuses to pay any of the fines. These were imposed for his participation in a meeting for worship without state permission (see below). “I didn’t pay because I don’t consider myself guilty,” he explained to Forum 18. “These fines were illegal.” Other Council of Churches Baptists similarly insist they should not be punished for meeting for worship. Their churches refuse to seek the compulsory state registration Kazakhstan demands.
Kazakhstan – in defiance of its binding international legal obligations – demands that groups of people can exist as a religious community and exercise freedom of religion or belief only if they have state permission. Even communities with state registration are targeted by officials. Recent examples include: the Full Gospel Church in Atyrau where the Anti-Terrorism Police with the Justice Department are bullying people identifying themselves as founders on registration applications, and trying to stop the Church meeting for worship without state permission; the Din-Muhammad Mosque community in Petropavl whose Mosque has been liquidated, but are still struggling against “legal” and extra-legal harassment to try to gain registration; and the registered Hare Krishna community in Kostanai who have been raided by police and their leader fined. It has appealed to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee to be able to exercise freedom of religion or belief without fear of criminal or administration punishment (see F18News 19 December 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2025).
Bailiff Andakulov insisted to Forum 18 from Oral on 12 January that Novikov “has to fulfil the orders of the court”. Andakulov then claimed that he had annulled the order, but refused to explain which order and when. He then put the phone down. Subsequent calls went unanswered. Despite Andakulov’s claim, Novikov told Forum 18 that he has had no information that either of the orders have been annulled.
Punishments, including exit bans preventing people leaving the country, are routinely imposed on people exercising freedom of religion or belief