Police Raid Ends Home Bible Study

On September 8th, a break-in was made at the apartment of Kormangazy Abdumuratov by the police, where Abdumuratov was found studying bible with the other Baptists. Taking in the details of the place and after searching and videotaping the place and the people present, all were taken for interrogation to the police headquarters. After an hour or two long interrogations, all the Baptists were released except Abdumuratov. Abdumuratov also received threats of lock up after his refusal of giving a written declaration of not holding any unauthorized religious gathering again. TV footage was aired showing the Baptists and their activities subsequent to this event after which Abdumuratov was expelled from the institute he was studying, being declared disloyal to the Kazakhs.    

A small community of Baptists in Atyrau, a town in north-western Kazakhstan, is under immense pressure from the officials. On September 8, a break-in was made at the apartment of Kormangazy Abdumuratov, a Baptist church head, where eight Baptists were found studying the bible.  According to Abdumuratov, eight officers of police and National Security Committee entered his apartment and searched every room, every book, wrote down all the details and videotaped all the books and the Baptists present there.

Later, the Baptists were taken to the police headquarters for interrogation where they stayed for an hour or two and were released except Abdumuratov. He was asked to give a declaration in writing not to take part in any unauthorized religious preceding which he refused. On that, Abdumuratov was threatened with a lock up as he was caught involved in such unauthorized religious gatherings on three other accounts.

The activities of the Baptists taped in Abdumuratov’s apartment were aired on the local television of Atyrau. The Baptists were called “dangerous cult”, people who took children away from their parents and who demands money from the members by the television commentator.

 Orinbasar Kushkenbayev, a captain from the administration of internal affairs was among the people who led the raid. Defending his actions, he commented, “We had every reason to search Abdumuratov’s home because unlawful religious meetings were regularly being held there and we were constantly receiving reports on this.” Abdumuratov claims to have tried to have the church in Atyrau registered. “We submitted documents for our community to be registered over a year ago. But the regional department of justice has refused to register us under various pretexts.” Abdumuratov stated.

Talking to Keston News Service, Abdumuratov told the reporters that he was expelled the previous May from the institute in which he was studying, on the basis of his religious ideas. He was called a traitor by the dean and the faculty members of the institute, someone who was having a bad influence on the other students. A similar incident occurred last year when Abdumuratov was asked to halt the activities of the church in the town Kulsary, on the grounds that Kazakh law has banned any unauthorized religious communities, another such argument is now being raised for the church Abdumuratov leads in the town of Atyrau.