Thursday, April 14, 2016

UN Article 18 and More Prisoners of Conscience: Speak Truth to Power

Yklas Kabduakasov
Bauyrzhan Serikov, Aidin Shakentayev and Murat Shopenov

Many more prisoners of conscience, denials of freedom of the press and speech...more misuse of vague accusations such as "insulting Islam" to deny freedom of conscience and religion....

"On 15 February a court in Kazakhstan's capital Astana upheld the Prosecutor's suit to ban four further Christian books as 'extremist.'The books were among 47 items seized when Christian prisoner of conscience Yklas Kabduakasov was arrested. Prosecutor Temirlan Adilkhanov said, he 'can't remember' in what ways the books might have caused harm."

"Religious believers have expressed concern over a list of 254 "radical" religious books, including Muslim, Ahmadi Muslim, Christian, Hare Krishna and Jehovah's Witness items."

"Nurlan Belesov, the same secret police Investigator who prepared Kabduakasov's prosecution, is also leading the criminal cases against six Sunni Muslims accused of membership of the banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat."
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

Yet these bans and arrests are clear violations of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which has been signed by the world's nations.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,"

"Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Then there are other related Articles such as 19 which say "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression..."

But what intolerant governments do, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan is create false charges related to "extremism."

In Saudi Arabia, there is no religious or speech freedom whatsoever, even though the Kingdom signed the UN Declaration, and even is represented on the UN human rights group!

Yet at the same time it is incarcerating and caning prisoners of conscience such as Raif Badawi.

"In Pakistan various innocent prisoners of conscience are falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam. Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman."

"A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence last month, dashing hopes it might be commuted to a jail term."

"We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President (Mamnoon) Hussain grants her a pardon..." husband Ashiq Masih wrote in an open letter dated November 17 and published by the New York Times...
Masih added his wife was not guilty of blasphemy."

"Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the majority Muslim country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence."

Additional Information:

"The City Court in Kazakhstan's capital Astana today (28 December) increased the punishment handed down to Seventh-day Adventist prisoner of conscience Yklas Kabduakasov...He was prosecuted for alleged incitement of religious hatred while talking to others of his faith, charges he and his fellow Church members reject...KNB secret police officers seized Kabduakasov at the end of the hearing and took him away to prison."

"Nurlan Belesov, the same secret police Investigator who prepared Kabduakasov's prosecution, is also leading the criminal cases against six Sunni Muslims accused of membership of the banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat. The six prisoners of conscience are being held in Astana's KNB secret police Investigation Prison. The court-ordered period for pre-trial detention for five of them has already expired and appears not to have been extended. Three other Muslim prisoners of conscience accused of Tabligh Jamaat membership have been in pre-trial imprisonment in Karaganda for nearly 12 weeks."

"Three more Sunni Muslim prisoners of conscience are being held in the KNB secret police Investigation Prison in the northern city of Karaganda [Qaraghandy] awaiting trial. The three - Bauyrzhan Serikov, Aidin Shakentayev and Murat Shopenov - were arrested on 7 October and ordered held in pre-trial imprisonment on 9 October. They too are accused of membership of Tabligh Jamaat"
F18News 12 January 2016

Is Tablighi Jama'at dangerous? Has it engaged in criminal activity?

from Pew:
Tablighi Jama’at

"The Tablighi Jama’at (“Society for Spreading Faith”) is a global educational and missionary movement whose primary purpose is to encourage Muslims everywhere to be more religiously observant. It currently operates in roughly 150 countries around the world, including in Western Europe."

"According to the teachings of the Tablighi Jama’at, the reformation of society is achieved through personal spiritual renewal...Founded by Islamic scholar and teacher Maulana Muhammad Ilyas in 1926 in Mewat, India."

"The movement does not have a large formal membership. Instead, it is largely comprised of small groups of itinerant male preachers...who travel, eat, sleep, wash and pray together and often observe strict regimens relating to dress and personal grooming...they reach out to Muslims of all social strata in an effort to remind them of the core teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and encourage them to attend mosque prayers and listen to sermons."

"The Tablighi Jama’at is thought to be one of the world’s largest religious movements. Exact membership figures are difficult to determine, however...estimates range as widely as 12 million-80 million."

"...founded in 1926 in Mewat, India, by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, an Islamic scholar and teacher. The movement began as an effort to counteract the activities of Hindu revivalists in India, who at the time were attempting to convert Muslims to Hinduism."

"...for decades a generally apolitical and pacifist movement..Theologically, the Tablighi Jama’at movement is closely tied to the scriptural, conservative Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which emphasizes strict adherence to religious orthodoxy. Most of the religious scholars and leaders associated with the Tablighi Jama’at are followers of Deobandism."

"...the movement has shown a great willingness to partner with non-Muslim political institutions...In France, for example, local Muslim groups were unable to build a mosque in the southern port city of Marseille until the Tablighis succeeded in partnering with the city’s conservative mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, who publicly backed the initiative. This helped clear a path for the mosque’s construction in 2007."

"While most followers of the Tablighi Jama’at are primarily interested in matters of personal piety and spiritual self-renewal, some have been accused of having ties to radical networks."

So while there are concerns of real extremism and terrorism, it appears that the 6 Sunni Muslims arrested by the secret police in Kazakhstan were only practicing their UN-Declared Human Rights, not engaging in any criminal behavior.

Please speak truth to power for all of these prisoners of conscience and so many millions of other ones.

Rescue the perishing...

In the LIGHT of Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Religion, and Justice,

Daniel Wilcox

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