Tuesday, May 27, 2008

letter from Kyrgyzstan

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We want to inform about latest disturbing news about a
conflict between a local evangelical Christian Baptist
community and a Muslim community.

On 17th of May 2008, in the village of Kulanak in Naryn
region of Kyrgyzstan a 14-year old boy died from cardiac
decompensation. He is a son of a believer Alymbek Isakov.
When his family was trying to bury him in the local
cemetery on the territory officially provided by the
government for the Baptist community, a group of 30
members of the village Muslim community led by a local
imam Kenjebek Imanov came to the funeral. According to
different sources, some of them were drunk and had spades
and other farm instruments with them. They prohibited the
burial and forced them to stop the burial claiming that
they will not allow to bury the deceased not only in this
territory but in the whole of Kulanak district area.

On the same day, together with a representative of the
village council (local government) approached the head of
the local district government with request to take
appropriate actions to resolve the conflict who in turn
handed over the task to his deputy. Together with the
local public prosecutor the deputy went to meet with the
conflicting groups. During the meeting, the Muslim
community restated their willingness to prevent the burial
unless the family members of the boy will denounce their
faith and accept Islam.

Unfortunately, the representatives of the local government
including the public persecutor instead of calling for
order and following the laws, supported the local Muslim
community saying, 'Yes. The Baptist have the right to
believe and the right to bury their son in this land. But
we are with people and cannot go against them'. Moreover,
they canceled their decision to allocate a separate
territory for believers to bury their dead which was
issued in April 2006.

It has been now four days since the boy died and there is
no end to this conflict. Yesterday on 21 of May the
protesters demanded other pastors, believers and leaders
who came to Kulanak to support the family and relatives of
the boy were asked to leave. They demanded that this issue
should be resolved within the village community. But the
Christians did not leave.

There has been slightly different accounts of this in
official media, most of which are biased against
Christians. According to the official media, this
situation is under the control of the governor of the
Naryn region Omurbek Suvanaliev. Unofficially, it has been
reported that he is not interested in supporting the
believers saying if there is violence or other outcome of
this conflict, the Christians are to be blamed.

The members of the Baptist church and some other churches
have officially addressed the President Kurmanbek Bakiev
to help them to bury the boy and protect our rights to
exercise our faith.

However, on the night from 22 to 23rd of May, the police
broke into the house of the family of the boy and they
took the body and buried it on the territory given to the
believers of the town of Naryn. As the result, the
boy’s body was buried not in his own village but
somewhere else.

Unfortunately, there have been different false reports on
media about this situation and the government did not
attempt to protect the rights of the believers to exercise
their religious practices and views in the places where
they live. Moreover, officially the believers are being
portrayed to be blamed for the initiating a religious
conflict or tension. This situation can set up a precedent
which may lead to further tensions when another Christian
dies making their relatives take them all the way to the
Naryn area from wherever they are residing. This is a
direct violation of our rights as citizens of this country
to practice our religious rituals, traditions in the areas
of residence.

The Christian community and key leaders are planning to
make a public statement on the situation and tell the true
side of this story through press conferences and other
media tools. They also want to start a legal investigation
the case with attempt to distinguish the level of
violation of our rights for freedom of religious views and

Dear friends, we ask you to pray for this situation for it
has a historic and national meaning since it is not the
first time when such tensions occurred. But it is probably
the first one that has been so publicly discussed and is
asking the President's attention. We also ask for your
prayers for necessary resources to proceed with public
press conferences and for legal investigations. We need to
find funds for lawyers and for organizational expenses
with making this issue more public. Please, pray for us
and for God’s providence for our plans.

We are afraid that the Kyrgyz government will violate our
rights given by the Constitution and that this case will
be used against Christian to accuse us of causing social
instability and religious tension. This is a wonderful
opportunity for the government to use this case to pass a
very restricting (one of the most restricting in the
region) law on religious freedom and religious
organization. Right after this situation occurred, the
head of the parliament announced that the parliament has
to urgently emend the existing laws on religious freedom
in order to toughen the control over different religious

Please, pray and tell about this difficult situation to as
many people as possible. We need to make this as public as
possible, especially outside of Kyrgyzstan. Maybe there
will be people who could help us with finances as well,
for a Press Conference, to take lawyers,
transportation expenses etc...

Pastor Gani Mondoev

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