By BosNewsLife News Center
ASTANA/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– An evangelical pastor faced possible abuse in a Kazakhstan prison Tuesday, July 16, nearly two months after he was jailed for harming the health of his congregants by infusing hallucinogens” into the communion juice” and other charges, rights activists told BosNewsLife.
Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev of Grace Church in the capital Astana was detained on May 17 and “ordered to be held for two months’ pre-trial detention over the alleged tempering with juice and “praying and singing,” said advocacy group Forum 18.
Kashkumbayev was locked in a “temporary isolation prison” while he awaits trial, according to local Christians.
Religious rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) told BosNewsLife that it had launched a petition for the pastor’s release and urged its followers to contact the Kazakhstan embassy amid concerns the pastor will be mistreated in prison.
“With deep roots in the Soviet Union, the government of Kazakhstan is one of the more brutal regimes in Central Asia. Religious minorities, including Christians, often face harsh restrictions on their activities,” ICC added in a statement.
“Violations of these restrictions result in high fines and time in prison. As prisoner abuse, especially of religious prisoners,
is common in Kazakhstan, ICC is asking” for his “immediate and unconditional release,” the group said.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Central Asia Corey Bailey said he wasn’t surprised about the charges against the pastor. “As ridiculous as it may seem to accuse Pastor Bakhytzhan of lacing communion juice with hallucinogens, this type of harassment is common,” the official
“Kazakhstan has a reputation for horrible treatment of prisoners. The longer Pastor Bakhytzhan remains in prison, the higher the
chance he will be tortured,”Bailey added.
There was no immediate known comment from Kazakh officials.
“The government of Kazakhstan must end its inhumane treatment of prisoners as well as immediately release Pastor Bakhytzhan from this wrongful imprisonment,”Bailey said.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
Help BosNewsLife to be the voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription.