The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Kazakh Authorities Intimidate Sunday Worshippers at Krishna Center

By: on July 1, 2008

On June 22, 2008, the Hakim of Zhetisu district, Almaty Province, Orynbay Zhanedil, intimidated the worshippers at the Sunday service of the Society for Krishna Consciousness.

As the Krishna congregation arrived by bus, on the territory of the commune in Zhetisu district, the Hakim arrived accompanied by a car of local policemen.

The congregation was entering the temple when the Hakim stopped them. He informed them that their meeting was illegal. He demanded that the territory be vacated within one hour and threatened that failure to comply would result in his bringing many police and conducting an examination of documents of all of the worshippers.

He again demanded that the congregation leave the territory at once. In closing he announced to the congregation that the land belongs to him and no one is entitled to stay there.

The Hakim confiscated the bus driver's driving license and threatened that he should never drive to the farm again.

The actions were in violation of Article 12 of the Law of Religious Freedom in RK that states, "Religious worship, ceremonies and rites may be freely performed in places of worship on the allotted territory." The Almaty Oblast Society for Krishna Consciousness is registered with the Ministry of Justice at the address of the farm.

As the Society was conducting the services according to the above legislation, the service continued as scheduled, and the Hakim did not reappear.

In 2004 the Kazakh government began prosecution of the Krishna Society. This resulted in the destruction of 26 residences of the Hindu practitioners and the 116- acre commune land being confiscated and returned to the district land reserve.

This is the only temple of the Krishna community in Kazakhstan. The community continues to occupy the area because the Kazakh government has not offered an acceptable alternative.

For the past one and a half years the Kazakh government has offered unusable land plots as a solution to the crisis. The most recent offer has been an active garbage dump situated in Illi District, Almaty Province.

This ongoing intimidation has taken place on the eve of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Astana. The sincerity of the government's determination to resolve the issue has again been demonstrated by the ongoing harassment of local authorities.

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