By Braja Sevaki Devi Dasi
The Kazakhstan Government has confiscated 116 acres of land from the Religious Organization Society for Krishna Consciousness. And now the Government is concerned only with declaring a resolution and silencing the issue with the Krishna community.
The conflict ( http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-problems/ ) between the executive authorities of the Karasai district, Almaty province, and the Hare Krishna community has been going on for three years.
On Novemeber 8, 2006, by the decision of the Almaty Provincial court the sales and purchase agreement between the RO Society for Krishna Consciousness and the previous owner was cancelled. RO Society for Krishna Consciousness was invited neither to the District nor to the Provincial court hearings, thus the decision of the courts of fist and second instances were taken without representatives of the Society.
Canceling the sales and purchase contract initiated a case in the Supreme Court, which took place on May 8, 2007. Supreme Court of Kazakhstan overturned its own ruling of July 30th, 2005 which granted the Society for Krishna Consciousness the right of use of the 116 acres land and right of ownership of this property upon registration with the local government bodies. (On the order of the local Hakim the government bodies would never register the property.)
Independent observers have called the issue a “typical raiding,” meaning forcible seizure of private property in favor of certain persons or companies, using the power of governmental bodies and courts in particular. This protracted conflict, which has clear signs of selective discrimination, culminated in the demolition of 13 houses of the community in November 2006.
International organizations and governments have commented on the crisis:
Joint statement of the International http://www.ihf-hr.org/viewbinary/viewhtml.php?doc_id=7547 Helsinki Federation and Human Rights Without Frontiers; The Advisory http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/142.html Council of the OSCE; The US Congress http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/177.html ; The Parliament http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/121.html of Great Britain; The http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/236.html International Helsinki Federation; The US http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/154.html Commission on International Religious Freedom; The European http://www.kazakhkrishna.com/en-news/en-news/243.html Parliament statement.
These bodies have addressed statements of concern to the Kazakh government condemning the aggressive measures taken towards the religious community, with the hope that the conflict would be resolved in a civilized manner.
The issue regarding the Krishna community has attracted media attention both within the country and internationally. (Visit www.kazakhkrishna.com
In February 2007, A.M. Mukhashov, the vice-chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee of the RK Ministry of Justice, declared in Kazakh media, “It is a happy end, the Hare Krishna community is legally allotted a plot of land.”
The government in deed offered the Community 5 acres of a deserted, arid, saline land with no vegetation other than thorns 70 kilometers away from Almaty city as compensation for 116 acres of a green oasis, which was confiscated from the Community.
On May 18, 2007 in Astana the Coordinator of RO Society for Krishna Consciousness in Central Asia, Govinda Swami, met with the Chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee of the Ministry of Justice RK, Mr. E.L. Tugzhanov.
Govinda Swami expressed his concern that the allotment of land to RO Society for Krishna Consciousness promised by the government was supported only by word of mouth, while there were no duly signed documents that could attest good intentions of the government to resolve the conflict around the Society. Govinda Swami requested Mr. Tugzhanov that both parties, i.e. the religious organization’s representatives and the government, should sign an agreement on their intentions as a guarantee that the Society would be given a plot of land. The Chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee declined this request and said that he would not sign anything.
Mr. Tugzhanov assured that the issue is supervised by the President’s Administration and he is directly supported by the President’s Administration. On the strength of this Mr. Tugzhanov said that he guarantees:
* that a plot of land will be allotted in Almaty city for the construction of the Temple
* that a plot of land will be allotted in Almaty province for keeping the cows by the end of the next week (by May 26, 2007)
As for the compensation to the victims of the demolition, the situation remains unclear. The only thing that Mr. Tugzhanov said was that the members of the Society should discuss this question in the district Hakimats. On May 19, 2007 in Taldykurgan, the Coordinator of RO Society for Krishna Consciousness in Central Asia, Govinda Swami, met with the first deputy hakim of Almaty province, Mr. Dolzhenkov.
Mr. Dolzhenkov said that the hakims of the Iliysk and Talgar districts of Almaty Province had been given an order to pick several plots of land from the land reserve of the districts for RO Society for Krishna Consciousness to choose among. Mr. Dolzhenkov then said that it was time to meet with the hakims of the mentioned districts, make an application for the allotment of land and after choosing a land plot, all the necessary title documents would be processed.
The representatives of RO Society for Krishna Consciousness asked a question whether it was possible to get plots of land for the individual housing of those members of the Society who suffered their cottages’ demolition.
Mr. Dolzhenkov was taken aback some and said that this question should be discussed directly with the district hakims.
On May 25 and 30, 2007 representatives of Krishna Community went to see the plots offered by the Hakim of Ilisky and Talgar district. The plots appeared to be 100 km away from the city, without electricity and water supply. Plots were just fields surrounded by many other fields, which haven’t been used for agriculture for long time or were in the middle of steps, where you’ll find sheeps and camels only.
The Kazakh government is concerned with declaring a resolution and silencing the issue with the Krishna community.
Kazakhstan has ratified the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights and is aspiring for the chairmanship of OSCE in 2009. But the proposed solution amounts only to rubbing the proposed salty earth into the wounds of a hard hit religious minority.
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Visit www.kazakhkrishna.com to see the tragedy of the Krishna community in Kazakhstan.
to see the VIDEO of the Krishna commune tragedy.