By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
TALDYKORGAN, KAZAKHSTAN (ANS) -- Kazakhstan continues to use land use regulations as a means to prevent religious communities and their members exercising freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org) has revealed.
A street scene in Taldykorgan
In one of several recent examples, in Taldykorgan the authorities have with this tactic forced a Methodist church to "voluntarily" close and fined the wife of the Church's Pastor.
Pastor Valery Kim told Forum 18 that the Church paid for an announcement in newspapers that it was liquidating itself.
"We do not want more punishment from the authorities", he noted. Zhumagul Alimbekov, Head of Almaty Region's Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA) Department told Forum 18 that "the Church will be closed down anyway, unless they can collect 50 signatures for re-registration".
Asked why Kazakhstan, whose government loudly boasts of its alleged religious tolerance, obstructs people exercising the internationally recognized right to freedom of religion or belief, Alimbekov claimed: "We are a law-governed state, we must obey the law". Religious communities also note that "expert analyses" by the ARA are obstructing communities gaining state registration and so permission to exist.
Note: Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Europe. The ninth largest country in the world by land area, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of 1,053,000 square miles is larger than Western Europe. It is neighbored clockwise from the north by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea.
To read the full story, please go to: www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1708