Astana, Kazakhstan | ANN Staff

Yklas Kabduakasov, a Seventh-day Adventist, was recently sentenced to serve two years in a labor camp for “inciting religious hatred.” Kabduakasov was accused of making incendiary comments during lectures with students of the capital university. A charge which Kabduakasov has consistently denied.

On December 22, the City Court judge decided to reopen the case and hear audio and video evidence against Kabduakasov with the prosecutor asking for a harsher sentence. Earlier this year Kabduakasov was sentenced by the Esilskij District Court to seven years of restricted freedom at home however the Appeals Court was asked to review his sentence and instead of restricting his freedom, sentenced him a jail term. 

Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church expressed concerns about the accusation and conviction noting, “Adventists experience restrictions to religious freedom understood as the right to profess, practice and propagate one’s faith without being hindered to do so.” 

Diop went on to say he, “encourages Kazakhstan authorities to live in accordance with their commitments to international treaties, covenants, and conventions and accordingly secure for all their citizens the freedom of religion or belief.”

Dwayne Leslie, associate director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, added, “We are seeing increasing levels of restrictions against religious minorities in many countries around the world and are troubled when people of faith are unable to follow their conscience as they see fit.” 

Kabduakasov’s lawyer, Shaldykova Gulmira, said she does not agree with the court’s decision and considers the verdict "too harsh." Gulmira said she intends to discuss the issue with Kabduakasov and recommend filing an appeal.  

Michael Kaminsky, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Euro-Asia Region said in an email that “we are united in praying for our brother and his family. Please, help our church family to join us in prayer for his freedom.”