By BosNewsLife News Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos

Makset Djabbarbergenov and part of his now extended family.

ASTANA/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Kazakhstan has detained an Uzbek house church pastor who is wanted in his home country for “illegal” religious teaching and Christian literature distribution, according to local Christians and rights activists.

Makset Djabbarbergenov, 32, was believed to remain behind bars Wednesday, September 19, two weeks after he was suddenly detained in the country where he had sought refuge in 2007.

Christians said they are concerned that the devoted Protestant Christian and his family will be extradited soon following the September 5 arrest in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s financial center and largest city.

The Norwegian religious-freedom watchdog agency Forum 18 said authorities initially held his sister-in-law for two weeks in an attempt to find him.

From her cell phone they allegedly obtained the phone number of Djabbarbergenov’s wife, and tracked down the location of the family’s home, where they detained Pastor Djabbarbergenov on what was his youngest son’s 2nd birthday.


The two charges awaiting Djabbarbergenov in Uzbekistan each reportedly carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

He was detained though Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court considers whether to declare him a refugee from almost-certain persecution, according to Christians familiar with the case.

“As a person I can say this [the extradition] is not right,” Daniyar Zharykbasov of Almaty’s Bostandyk District Prosecutor’s Office added in published remarks published by Forum 18 News service. “But we have to follow the rules.”

It comes at a time when Pastor Djabbarbergenov with his wife Aigul, who already have four sons, are expecting a fifth child and amid concerns over the Christian’s health.

The news service of well-informed advocacy and aid group Open Doors said Djabbarbergenov told a friend he was too disturbed to eat during the first few days of his incarceration.


“At first, Djabbarbergenov told his friend, he told God he did not want this cross. Now, he said, ‘I pray that if this is from you, Lord, I will accept whatever you say. Just help me carry it’, Open Doors News said.

Born in Uzbekistan’s small town of Symbai, Djabbarbergenov became a Christian in 2000 and soon an active church leader in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan, Christians said.

All Protestant churches in Karakalpakstan are all considered illegal with authorities refusing to register them.

Djabbarbergenov fled his country after he was dragged into court six times and police raided the family’s apartment in August 2007, Christians said.

The pastor and his wife, Aigul, then pregnant with their third child, initially fled to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. He eventually crossed into Kazakhstan the following month and his family followed a few months later.


Uzbekistan is ranked Number 7 on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. “Christians are fined or given short-term prison sentences. When brought to court, fair treatment is not ensured,” Open Doors said.

The United States State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have designated Uzbekistan as a “country of particular concern.”

“The Uzbek government violates the full range of human rights and harshly penalizes individuals for independent religious activity regardless of their religious affiliation,” including Muslims, the Commission declared wrote in its 2012 annual report.

Uzbekistan has been ruled by President Islam Karimov who critics claim takes a “ruthlessly authoritarian” approach to all forms of opposition as well as religious groups deemed dangerous to his power base.

He has dominated the leadership since 1989 when he rose to be Communist Party leader in then Soviet Uzbekistan. The following year he became president and continued in the post after independence.


  1. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! TAKE ACTION! Please help stop the extradition of Pastor Djabbarbergenov back to Uzbekistan by contacting the Kazakhstan ambassador to the U.S. and pleading with him to get Makset released for humanitarian reasons. Remind him that the pastor has been living peacefully in his country for four years.

    His Excellency Mr. Erlan A. Idrissov
    Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
    Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
    1401 16th Street, NW
    Washington, D.C., 20036

    Contact phone numbers:
    Tel: 202-232-5488
    Fax: 202-232-3541 (consular)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here