Kazakhstan Bulldozes Hindu Homes

Read about this on a discussion forum. This is apalling. For more information about the persecution of religious minorities in Kazakhstan also visit: www.Forum18.org

Almaty – Earlier today in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan, several busloads of riot police and two bulldozers demolished eleven homes owned by members of the Hare Krishna religion, a Vaishnava Hindu tradition, leaving multiple families homeless in freezing temperatures and winter snow.

The surprise demolition is part of what human rights organizations have labeled a land-grab by local government officials against a religious minority.

Incredulously, the bulldozing began even while a state special commission – appointed to investigate allegations of religious harassment against Hindus in Kazakhstan – has promised that no government action would be taken until the commission made its findings public.

“I have no words to describe what I have seen,” said Ninel Fokina, head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, an international human rights organization, monitoring the police action. “They have no right to put people out of their homes in winter.”

Forum 18, a religious rights watchdog group, has documented a long history of intolerance towards Hindus and other religious minorities in Kazakhstan. South Korean Pastor Kim U. Sob, who led a Presbyterian church in the country for eight years, was expelled on November 14th for “missionary activity without registration.” Even members of minority Muslim groups, like the international Tabligh Jama’at, are regularly fined for giving lectures in mosques without state registration.

The demolition has evoked outrage from the worldwide Hindu community.

“National Hindu organizations from the UK, United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries condemn this injustice, and call upon the Kazakhstan government to immediately stop the persecution of Hindus,” said Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain.

Krishna members own several dozen private family homes along with a hundred plus acre tract of undeveloped land in the Almaty region. Disputes began months ago when Krishna believers attempted to privatize their land per Kazakh law allowing private ownership in the former communist state. Registration attempts were denied to Krishna believers who then sought court protection; those efforts too were repeatedly frustrated.

Ironically, Kazakhstan recently hosted the “Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions,” a conference on religious diversity, and is pursuing the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an international human rights commission.

“Today the homes of innocent people of faith have been destroyed, and women and children put out into the snow, at the hands of a government that claims to value religious freedom,” said Anuttama Dasa, spokesperson for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). “Such aggression against innocent people, coupled with blatant governmental hypocrisy, should not be tolerated by the international community, Dasa said.

MEDIA RELEASE – ISKCON COMMUNICATIONS

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