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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev

 

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev led the Presbyterian Grace Church in Astana.  He has been jailed since May 2013.  For a period of time he was detained in a psychiatric hospital where he was forcibly administered psychotropic drugs, a notorious Soviet form of punishment.  While he was released from the psychiatric hospital, he was rearrested on charges of extremism.  These serious charges carry a possible prison term of three to seven years, with grave implications for both Pastor Kashkumbayev and the Grace Church.  The Pastor was arrested on May 17, 2013 on charges of “intentional infliction of serious harm to health” to parishioner Lyazzat Almenova but her mother called for the case against the pastor to be dropped.  The pastor’s pre-trial detention was extended on October 7 until November 17 and he was then supposed to be transferred from prison to house arrest.  Finally, after the Pastor’s very brief reunion in prison with his family he was re-arrested and charged with acts of “propaganda of terrorism or extremism or public calls to commit an act of terrorism or extremism as well as the distribution of material of the content indicated.”  Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev was released on Feb. 17, 2014 after spending nine months in jail awaiting trial. He was convicted of the charge and received a four-year suspended sentence. Although four other charges were dropped, some fear that new charges could be filed. Pastor Kashkumbaev was freed after court proceedings and returned to the home he shares with his wife, Alfiya.  He plans to appeal the conviction.