At a closed October 27 meeting of about 20 of Kazakhstan’s most senior officials, State Secretary Kanat Saudabaev ordered the devotion of considerable resources to promoting the highly restrictive new Religion Law.
Members of a variety of religious communities are increasingly afraid to voice criticism of the new law publicly. One media company was threatened with closure if it gave the new law negative coverage and Baptist parents have been threatened with fines or imprisonment for refusing to send their children to compulsory Self-Recognition lessons in schools.
A Baptist was imprisoned for 48 hours in early December for refusing to pay fines imposed for leading meetings for religious worship, another Baptist having been separately fined for attending a meeting for worship, with a third facing a fine for the same ‘offence’.
The new Religion Law, along with an Amending Law, considerably broadened the range of offences for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as increasing punishments.
F18 News (www.forum18.org)