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Media Contact: Corey Bailey, Regional Manager for Central Asia RM-Asia@persecution.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After Three Weeks of Silence: ICC Locates Kazakhstan's Wrongfully Imprisoned Pastor
Kashkumbayev Held in Pre-Trial Prison in Almaty
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Pastor Bakhytzhat Kashkumbayev has been transferred to a pre-trial prison in Astana, Kazakhstan. The government had refused to reveal his whereabouts, even to his family and lawyer, since his release from a psychiatric ward on September 2, 2013.
ICC sources reported on September 17 that Pastor Kashkumbayev has been moved to a pre-trial prison in Astana. "No one has been allowed to see him. Not his family. Not even his lawyer," a source wishing to remain anonymous told ICC last week. Felix Corley of Forum 18 reports that since Kashkumbayev's discharge from the ward, the government has refused to answer questions of his whereabouts.
When or if a trial will occur and what the outcome might be still remains unclear. What is painfully clear, however, is that this elderly pastor who suffers from numerous health conditions is being held in violation of his religious rights. Kazakhstan prides itself on religious freedom; however each day that Pastor Kashkumbayev is wrongfully detained, it is those very rights he is denied.
The treatment of Pastor Kashkumbayev may become a disturbing pattern of how Kazakhstan treats religious dissidents under the new, controversial religion law. The law, which was introduced in 2011, has wreaked havoc among the religious minorities, specifically evangelical Christians and Muslim sects. Churches' legal rights to gather were revoked and Christians are arrested and fined for meeting together to pray without government permission. "We think it [persecution of Christians] will only get worse. The government broke the rights of all their people with the religion law," a pastor, who wished to remain anonymous for safety, told ICC in September.
Jeff King, president of ICC says, "While we are glad that we have discovered Pastor Kashkumbayev's whereabouts, he is still wrongfully imprisoned. We must create a virtual/digital siege around the Kazakhstan embassy with thousands of people demonstrating for the end of evil and brutality perpetrated against the innocent."
To express your concern, please contact Kazakhstan's U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C. at this number: 202-232-5488 from 9:.00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (EST). If you are not from the United States, please contact the Kazakhstan embassy in your country.
For interviews, contact Corey Bailey, Regional Manager for Central Asia: RM-Asia@persecution.org
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