Human Rights Groups Condemn Razing of Temple and Homes in Kazakhstan

November 27, 2006

Source: Hindu American Foundation

WASHINGTON D.C. (Nov. 27, 2006) – The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned the destruction of five homes and a temple belonging to members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) by Kazakh government authorities. On November 21, 2006, sixty policemen assembled at the ashram in Karasai District and bulldozed the property, leaving devotees homeless in the middle of the winter.

Prior to the razing, ISKCON leaders reported being continually harassed by local government officials seeking to seize their property. The government has repeatedly filed lawsuits, confiscated land, barns and cows, and subjected devotees to frequent police, fire protection service, sanitary agency, environment protection agency, and land committee inspections. In May 2006, HAF protested against an earlier attempt to raze the homes of ISKCON members on behest of the local governor.

The destruction has drawn condemnation from Hindu and human rights organizations around the globe. In addition, British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the persecution of Hindus with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in London on November 22.

Following the destruction, Kazakh ISKCON devotee Rati Manjari said: “I have no roof over my head in this winter time. It's not only me, there were mothers with children. Where will they go?"

Kazakhstan, the largest republic in Central Asia with a population of over 15 million, is comprised of over 130 ethnic groups who practice 40 religions. Ethnic Russians, who typically are traditionally members of the Russian Orthodox Church, constitute around a third of the population while ethnic Kazakhs, who are Sunni Muslims, make up half. There is also a small Jewish minority. Though not demographically significant, followers of ISKCON, a Hindu Vaishnavite sect, have been registered in Karasai district since May 2002.