Kazakhstan continues to jail and harass people for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. They authorities also continue to raid religious communities, even when they have state permission to exist under the country’s highly restrictive Religion Law.
Kenzhetai Baytinov, an ethnic Kazakh Christian Believer, was stopped in January in a local open air market while sharing his faith with another person. He was taken to the Regional Administration’s Religious Affairs Department, where he was warned that he would be given an administrative punishment unless he stopped his street preaching. Baytinov has been fined five times in the last two years and has lost his job as a school caretaker because of state pressure.
When asked about this, the Head of the Religious Affairs Department told Forum 18 that: “We did not open a case against him since he is a nice fellow. We only warned him this time that he must stop unauthorised missionary activity in public places.” He continued: “the Religion Law states that one must receive prior authorisation from the local authorities, and then carry out the missionary activity only within specially designated rooms or buildings, but not on the street.”
Kazakhstan demands that groups of people can exist as a religious community and exercise freedom of religion or belief only if they have state permission, and this is gained via a complex and restrictive state registration system.
- Pray for Kazakh believers who are fined, imprisoned and lost their jobs because of their belief, that they will not lose heart.
- Pray for the Kazakh Church to continue to grow despite growing opposition.
- Pray for the Kazakh government, to soften their attitudes towards the right to freedom of belief and worship.
Psalm 32 vs 6: “Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.”