International Christian Concern (ICC) is deeply troubled by the illegal detention and harsh interrogation methods used against Pastor Bakhytzhat Kashkumbayev.
Since being arrested on May 17 on trumped-up charges, Pastor Kashkumbayev has been severely mistreated at the hands of the Kazakh government. The government continues to refuse to disclose his location in apparent attempts to keep him hidden.
ICC’s Central Asia Regional Manager recently returned from Kazakhstan with reports from sources on the ground indicating that Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev suffered from “Soviet-style psychological examinations” while in a psychiatric ward. Kashkumbayev was discharged from the ward on September 4; however, the government refuses to reveal his current whereabouts.
“It is only because there is international attention that Pastor Kashkumbayev has not been beaten and killed,” a pastor in Almaty told ICC. “If it wasn’t like this, he would have been killed. We are worried at the treatment he received in the Psychiatric ward,” he continued.
Calls to the Kazakhstan embassy resulted in denials including, “Pastor Kashkumbayev was never arrested” and “This is just a small local matter.” ICC’s President, Jeff King, says, “Unfortunately this behavior is typical of those governments who use Soviet-era security methods. Even the State Department has confirmed that Pastor Kashkumbayev has been arrested and is in custody.”
Following accusations that Kashkumbayev had laced communion juice with hallucinogens which “harmed the health” of Lyazzat Almenova, he was arrested on May 17. However, in a report by Felix Corley of Forum 18, Almenova claims that she was used as a witness to open a case against the pastor. “He is totally innocent and has not harmed my health at all,” she stated.
Pastor Kashkumbayev had been transferred from prison in Astana to Almaty’s Republican Scientific/Practical Centre of Psychiatry on August 5th, where he remained until he was discharged on September 2nd. In addition to the unfounded accusations, the wrongful imprisonment, the denial of a fair trial and the likely mental torture in a psychiatric ward, it seems that the government is now hiding Kashkumbayev. He has simply disappeared.
Corey Bailey, ICC’s Regional Manager for Central Asia, said, “The international community should be aware of Kazakhstan’s unlawful treatment of Pastor Kashkumbayev and of their religion law which violates the religious freedom of its citizens. I am saddened to see the government revert back to the Soviet-style of physical and psychological torture as they continue to hold this elderly pastor in custody. We call on concerned citizens to respond to the cry of the Christian community to focus their minds and hearts on Kazakhstan and demand the immediate release of Pastor Kashkumbayev.”
Please contact Kazakhstan’s U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C. at this number: 202-232-5488 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (EST) If you are not from the U.S., please contact the Kazakhstan embassy in your country. And above all pray for his health, his protection and release. — International Christian Concern www.persecution.org