U.S. Urges Kazakhs To Stop Harassing Hare Krishnas

December 11, 2006 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

BY RADIO FREE EUROPE

Dec 8, USA (AP) — The United States has urged Kazakh authorities to end what it describes as an “aggressive” campaign against Hare Krishna followers. The call is contained in a statement released today by the U.S. Embassy in Astana.

The statement questions the legal basis of a Kazakh court ruling ordering the destruction of the Sri Vrindavan Dham, a sprawling farming commune near Almaty. Sri Vrindavan Dham is the only Hare Krishna commune in the CIS.

Kazakh police on November 21 began to bulldoze the residential buildings and other property of Hare Krishna followers. Judicial authorities say the land on which the commune is built was acquired illegally. They reject suggestions that Hare Krishna followers are being persecuted on religious grounds.

Experts advising the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on religion issues on November 27 expressed concern at the demolition work and offered to mediate between Kazakh authorities and commune members.

In a related story,Gazeta.KZ reported the following from Astana, Kazakhstan:

US embassy expresses concern about eviction of Krishna community near Almaty

The US embassy has expressed concern about the eviction of Krishna community in Karasai district, Almaty region, Kazakhstan Today reports.

“The embassy is seriously concerned about legal grounds for the actions against the “Krishna Conscience Community”. Regardless of the grounds for these actions, the eviction of the owners of those houses by force in the period of frosts and the demolition of their property contradicted the principles of the execution of law and justice. It is especially concerning that the authorities undertook these actions before a special commission authorised to find a mutually satisfactory soluion could publish its recommendations”, – the embassy statement says.

Moreover, the US embassy is worried by the fact that “the authorities of Karasai district continue their aggressive campaign against the Community”. Despite the term that has passed since the demolition “the authorities have not done anything to improve the situation. Actually it has been further aggravated… the authorities instituted a new court action against the Community”, – the document explains.

In relation with this the US embassy calls the Karasai district authorities “to abstain from further aggression against the “Krishna Conscience Community” and “to work on an honest, lawful and peaceful solution of this juridical conflict”.

The Krishna Conscience Community acquired a land plot in Karasai District, Almaty region, in 1999. The local authorities filed a lawsuit against the community in 2005 for a change in the purpose of use of the acquired land plot. On 21 November, 2006, the authorities demolished 14 houses belonging to the religious community.

And from today’s edition of The Hindu, filed in Port-of-Spain:

Hare Krishna Leader Lobbies for ISKCON Devotees

Alleging that the homes and places of worship of hundreds of Hindus in Kazakhstan have been razed, a religious figure from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has sought refugee status for its members living in the predominantly-Muslim State.

Homes and temples visited by hundreds of ISKCON members living in Kazakhstan have been destroyed by the authorities there, Swami Guru Prasad of ISKCON, who is on a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, said.

Seeking refugee status for devotees living in Kazahstan, Swami Prasad said the alleged destruction of Hindu property violates the law as the Kazakh Government had given the Hindus permission to live there.

He said, the ISKCON would lobby world leaders to appeal to Kazakhstan to stop “Attacks on Hare Krishna devotees in the predominantly-Islamic state.”

ISKCON has provided a link for the small Hindu community there, Swami Prasad said.

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