According to Forum 18 News Service, Seventh-day Adventist Yklas Kabduakasov was sentenced to seven years’ restricted freedom on 9th November, by a court in the capital Astana. The sentence came more than 12 weeks after his arrest by Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) secret police.
Both Kabduakasov and his community repeatedly denied the prosecution’s accusations that he spread “religious discord” when discussing his faith and offering Christian books to others.
One of his sons, Alibek Kabduakasov, told Forum 18: “My father’s religious liberties and basic human rights were violated by the fact that he was kept under arrest without any grounds since 14th August, and has now been sentenced,.”
The prosecution alleged that Kabduakasov had insulted Islam during discussions with a group of students who had invited him to talk to them. They also alleged that Kabduakasov had pressured his subordinates at work to adopt Christianity, beating and dismissing those who refused to do so.
“The prosecution provided no evidence during the trial of any employee beaten by Kabduakasov, nor any facts of him dismissing his employees,” Kabduakasov’s lawyer told Forum 18, adding that witnesses presented by the prosecution who stopped working for Kabduakasov had “left their jobs voluntarily”.
The Court did “not prove that he is guilty of the charges,” she noted.
Alibek Kabduakasov agreed. “None of these charges were proven in Court,” he told Forum 18. “My father did not force anyone to accept his faith – on the contrary, during his conversations with his employees he told them that it is their choice to become Christian or remain Muslim.”
Kabduakasov will have to live under close scrutiny from now until 2022,. The Judge banned him from leaving the city, changing his place of residence or place of work without permission. She also banned him from visiting places of public entertainment, such as cafes, restaurants, bars, night clubs and discos.
In addition, Kabduakasov was ordered to pay about 150,000 Tenge (450 Euros or 490 US Dollars) to cover the cost of the “expert analyses” of his statements that formed the basis of the prosecution.
- Pray for Kabduakasov and his family as they process the implications of the sentence, and also work with the lawyer to appeal the decision. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the lawyers involved, and for an open ear from the judge to listen to their appeal.
- Pray for Christians in Kazakhstan as they face growing oppression and suspicion from the government, and are often targeted by the secret police.
- Pray for the Kazakh government, to allow the right to freedom of belief for all people, including Christians, and to permit freedom of worship.
Colossians 4 vs 3: “At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison.”