KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 8, Article 15, 14 August 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

SUMMARY:
KAZAKHSTAN: BAPTISTS FACE PRESSURE AFTER GOSPEL
MEETINGS.
An evangelistic campaign by members of a Baptist church in villages of eastern
Kazakhstan in early August brought harassment from local Muslim clergy, the
local administration, the police, and officers of the National Security
Committee (KNB), a successor to the KGB. One believer was beaten
unconscious and Christian literature was burnt.

Monday 14 August 2000
KAZAKHSTAN: BAPTISTS FACE PRESSURE AFTER GOSPEL
MEETINGS

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

An evangelistic campaign by members of a Baptist church in villages of eastern
Kazakhstan in early August brought harassment from local Muslim clergy, the
local administration, the police, and officers of the National Security
Committee (KNB), a successor to the KGB. The ten-day campaign, organised
by members of a Baptist congregation in the town of Urdjar in Eastern
Kazakhstan region of the country and joined by Baptists from the city of
Almaty, also led to a severe beating of one of the participants, TALGAT
DJAKUPOV, who lives in the village of Novo-Andreyevka near Urdjar.

A 10 August statement from local Baptists, passed to Keston News Service by
the Friedensstimme Mission in Germany, reported that the worst problems
came in the village of Akshoki near Urdjar along the border with China.
`Officers of the KNB, the police and the local clergy incited the people not to
listen to the preaching about salvation,' the statement declared, `threatened
those preaching and burnt Christian literature. Believers living in the village
were more than once summoned to the procuracy, to the administrative
commission and to the court.' It is unknown whether any of the Baptists were
sentenced.

Local Baptists told the Friedensstimme Mission the following day that they had
been preaching outside a shop in the centre of Akshoki, where they had been
well received and a local woman had invited them to visit her home on a later
occasion. Just after they left, the head of administration of the village arrived
with the local mullah and whipped up the crowd against the Baptists. When
Djakupov returned alone two days later, he was attacked by a group of eight
young men who, the Baptists reported, beat him until he lost consciousness.
They repeatedly asked him if he was prepared to convert to Islam, and beat him
all the harder when he refused. On his return to Urdjar he was immediately
hospitalised with severe injuries.

The local Baptists also reported that before this incident, the procuracy and
administrative commission in Urdjar had summoned several of the Baptists.
`The basic issue was that we are not registered,' they declared.

The Baptists belong to congregations of the Council of Churches of
Evangelical Christians/Baptists, which rejected state registration in the Soviet
period and continues this stance in all the post-Soviet republics where it is
active.

Keston has been unable to verify the Baptists' report, but reports issued through
the Council of Churches have a long track-record of reliability. Keston
repeatedly telephoned the governor of Akshoki, SELIKHANOV, but his
telephone went unanswered. Keston also telephoned the Department for Work
with Confessions within the Ministry of Culture, Information and Social
Accord in the Kazakh capital Astana, but there too the telephone went
unanswered. (END)