Kazakh campaign to limit the activities of non-traditional religions condemned

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PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: Priya Abraham
202-835-8760/Abraham@religionandpolicy.org

Institute condemns deportation of Hare Krishna leader from Kazakhstan

Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2009-The Institute on Religion and Public Policy condemns the Jan. 27 deportation of the religious leader of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), B. B. Govinda Swami, from Kazakhstan.

According to ISKCON, Govinda Swami was held without explanation at the airport in Almaty for 12 hours and denied entry into Kazakhstan, despite carrying a valid passport and visa. He was reportedly on a government list of people who are not allowed into Kazakhstan.

The move against Govinda Swami appears to be the latest in a Kazakh campaign to limit severely the activities of non-traditional religions in the country. Hare Krishnas continually face harassment and undue monitoring, and in a prominent case that began in 2006, lost a commune outside Almaty when the government first raided then seized their property.

“The Kazakh government seems to continually and erroneously view peaceful minority religions as a threat to security, and the country’s abysmal record on religious freedom shows it,” said Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski. “We call on the government of Kazakhstan to allow Govinda Swami to enter the country and meet with his fellow Hare Krishnas, and allow the community as a whole to worship freely.”

The Institute has consistently engaged the government of Kazakhstan on its religious freedom abuses, and has called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to rescind the country’s scheduled 2010 chairmanship of the group.

Click here

http://religionandpolicy.org/cms/index.phpoption=com_content&task=view&id=1488&Itemid=342

to read the Institute’s latest report on religious freedom in Kazakhstan,

and here

http://religionandpolicy.org/cms/index.phpoption=com_content&task=view&id=1663&Itemid=242

for a letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
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Press release

Society for Krishna Consciousness, Kazakhstan

January 28, 2009

On January 27, 2009, the religious leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, US citizen B. B. Govinda Swami, was deported from the airport of Almaty while attempting to enter Kazakhstan. The officials have given no explanation.

Govinda Swami was invited to Almaty by the Society for Krishna Consciousness in Kazakhstan. With the valid passport and the valid visa to Kazakhstan on hand, he arrived to the Almaty airport from Moscow on January 27, 5:45 a. m. Govinda Swami was unexpectedly stopped at the passport control desk: the border guards confiscated his passport and told him that he would be deported back to Moscow. They did not disclose the cause for deportation. The chief officer of the Airport Border Service did not allow the lawyer of Govinda Swami, who came to the airport, to meet with him.

Govinda Swami was kept in the airport for 12 hours. He was obliged to pay for his ticket for the evening (6:55 p. m.) flight to Moscow. Govinda Swami got his passport back only in Sheremetievo, Moscow.

The Society for Krishna Consciousness was informed of the so called “black list” of personae non grata who cannot enter Kazakhstan. Govinda Swami’s name was put in that list. According to information from the Committee of Religious Affairs, the decision about prohibiting Govinda Swami from entering the country was taken by the migration police of Actobe city that acted on the order of the Actobe Prosecutor’s office.

The RK law stipulates that the decision about declaring a foreigner persona non grata can only be taken by the court. Upon what rules of law did the Actobe migration police base their decision against the US citizen Govinda Swami? The Society for Krishna Consciousness, as the inviting party, intends to go into court to appeal against the decision of the Actobe authorities.

Society for Krishna Consciousness, Kazakhstan

+7 727 296 9719 +7 701 7407943 +7 72771 34287

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