Teymur Akhmedov and Asaf Guliyev, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, were arrested in Kazakhstan after sharing their faith. KNB informers disguised as university students claim the men “spoke negatively about representatives of the religions of Islam and Orthodoxy” and “advocated the exclusivity and superiority of one religion over another.” Kazakhstan ranks among the top fifty of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians, according to Open Doors. For proclaiming a faith contradictory to their own, the Kazakhstan government delivers harsh punishment.
02/07/2017 Kazakhstan (Forum 18) – On 18 January Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) secret police arrested two Jehovah’s Witnesses in the capital Astana, for discussing their faith with young people recruited as KNB informers. A court ordered Teymur Akhmedov and Asaf Guliyev to be held in pre-trial detention for two months, although Akhmedov is suffering from cancer and needs hospitalisation.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses appear, as in other cases involving Muslim and Protestant prisoners of conscience, to have been set up for prosecution by the KNB using informers it recruited. These informers invited the Witnesses to meetings the KNB recorded.
Judge Akmaral Isayeva claimed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “crime presents a danger to the public in that it violates a fundamental constitutional principle, the principle of equality”. She goes on to claim that “observance of this principle is one of most important conditions for the existence and development of any civilised society.”
The Judge was presented with a report from the National Scientific Center for Oncology and Transplantation (the national cancer centre) which “recommends an operation and requests that Akhmedov undergo an examination before being hospitalised”. His lawyer argued that he should therefore held in house arrest to enable treatment. But the Judge refused this, violating the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules), claiming that the “report is a recommendation”. The Judge has been repeatedly unavailable for questions, so Forum 18 has been unable to ask her how her decision demonstrated that Kazakhstan was a “civilised society”