KAZAKHSTAN: Beaten Baptist Taken to Psychiatric Hospital.

Felix Corley, Keston News Service, 13 November 2001

Asylbek Nurdanov, a Baptist leader in the town of Kazalinsk in Kyzyl-Orda region close to the Aral Sea in southern Kazakhstan who was beaten and threatened by local police at the end of October for his work with his church (see KNS 12 November 2001), has now been placed in a psychiatric hospital, Keston News Service has learnt. Pastor Valery Pak, who is based in the town of Kyzyl-Orda, reported that on 10 November Nurdanov was forcibly taken to psychiatric hospital in Kyzyl-Orda after police allegedly pressured Nurdanov's parents to write a statement complaining of his activities. "At the present moment, brother Asylbek has been held in psychiatric hospital for four days and it is not known how long he has been admitted for," Pastor Pak declared in a 13 November statement.

Pastor Pak reports that after enquiries and appeals were made from outside (possibly a reference to Keston's enquiries with the Kazalinsk police about the 27 October beating and threats), Nurdanov was again summoned to the police station and threatened. "They shouted at him and threatened him to try to make him abandon his faith in Christ, but this time they did not beat him, just intimidated him." It was in the wake of this that he was taken to psychiatric hospital.

Pastor Pak recounts that he and some colleagues visited Nurdanov in the hospital on 13 November and spoke to Doctor A. Alieva, the head of the department where he is being held. They told the doctor that Nurdanov is "a completely healthy person" and tried to find out why he was being held and when he would be released. "She became nervous, saying that his parents had written a statement about him," Pak reported. "Having spoken to the brother [Nurdanov], we discovered that in reality the statement had been written under pressure from the police alleging that brother Asylbek had gathered children around him, frightened and threatened them in preaching about Christ in a bid to get them to break with Islam and adopt Christianity."

The address of the psychiatric hospital is:

Ul. G. Musrepova 69

Kyzyl-Orda 467016

KAZAKHSTAN

Chief Doctor: Anatoly Petrovich Nigai

Nurdanov's congregation belongs to the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, which has a policy of not seeking or accepting registration in all the former Soviet republics where it is active. Like many Baptist congregations it is facing increasing pressure for refusing to register. Some pastors have already been fined while others are facing administrative or even criminal cases.

Keston has been unable to verify the placement of Nurdanov in Kyzyl- Orda psychiatric hospital independently, but statements distributed through the Council of Churches have a long track-record of reliability. Police in Kazalinsk last week admitted to Keston that Nurdanov had been questioned in late October, but denied that he had been beaten, accusing him of lying. (END)