Baha'is in Kyrgyzstan having trouble...

Jun 2006
Excerpt from Form 18 Report on registering religions in Kyrgystan:

The Baha'i community also complains of the process of drawing up the law. "No-one has given us any texts or invited us – this is very bad," one leading member of the community told Forum 18 from Bishkek on 4 March. "We want to be invited to participate as this will affect us too."

The Baha'i representative said that indications are that the new Law will again make registration more difficult. "World religions – such as the Baha'i faith – can't be banned – we're a legal faith and have been registered by the Justice Ministry and the State Agency," the representative insisted. "Look at our principles – we don't get involved in politics. We're doing nothing wrong. Indeed, we're doing good." The Baha'is question why registration is compulsory. "If a faith is not harmful, why ban it?"

The representative reported that their Bishkek community has many more than 200 adult members, unlike the rest of their more than 30 communities across Kyrgyzstan. "If we had to present lists of 200 adult members with full names, addresses and telephone numbers, this could cause problems," the representative told Forum 18. "It would be close to becoming a totalitarian state."

The Baha'i representative noted that some two years ago, after elections to their governing body in the country, the National Spiritual Assembly, State Agency officials summoned the newly-elected leaders are tried to pressure them.

"They asked why they had chosen this faith, where they got their money from and why foreigners were taking part. They wanted to pressure the foreign Baha'is to register as foreign missionaries, even though they had come to work in Kyrgyzstan – sometimes many years ago – and merely wanted to practise their faith in their own time. It was all very unpleasant."

The Baha'is also fear that – as in 1997 after the Law was last amended – all religious organisations will have to re-register, a "cumbersome procedure that costs money".


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