KYRGYZSTAN: Letter of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the President of Kyrgyzstan
To the President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan
S. N. Japarov
October 29, 2021
Your Excellency Sadyr Nurgozhoevich Japarov:
We deeply appreciate Your Excellency’s determination to ensure that all citizens of Kyrgyzstan benefit from the rights enshrined in the esteemed Constitution of Kyrgyzstan and your key role in encouraging a spirit of tolerance that contributes to the stability and harmonious development of the nation. With your recent well-received video message at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly Your Excellency again confirmed your goal to promote respect for the rights of people in our country.
In the attached letter dated 1 October 2021, the Deputy Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic informed us that the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) continues to investigate a criminal case against our Religious Center that has continued since 2019. We learnt about this case only in March of this year, when SCNS officers conducted a search on the property of our Religious Center based on unfounded accusations. We are very much concerned that this undue harassment may lead to curtailment of the religious freedom of our peaceful minority.
It will not have escaped your notice that in 2019 the United Nations Humans Rights Committee (CCPR) published its decision on a case of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kyrgyzstan. The CCPR stated that the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Kyrgyz Republic were violated by the refusal of the State Commission of Religious Affairs (SCRA) to register our organization in the Batken oblast. The CCPR added: “The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future”. A copy of the decision is attached. Unfortunately, it has not yet been implemented by the SCRA, and we fear that the ongoing criminal investigation by the SCNS, which has been in progress for more than two years, may lead to “similar violations” in the future. Therefore, we respectfully ask for you to this look into this problem, and for your assistance to terminate the criminal investigation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a worldwide reputation for being law-abiding citizens with the greatest respect for national authorities. We endeavor to contribute actively to the welfare of our fellow citizens by upholding important values, such as family life and honesty. We deeply value our relationship and our open dialogue with your respected government. We are proud that the Kyrgyz courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently held that the Constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association apply to our peaceful religious activity, as they do to all law-abiding Kyrgyz citizens.
May we respectfully request a brief audience with you or a member of your respected administration, which would afford an opportunity to answer any question you might have about our peaceful activity and to clarify our concerns. Alternatively, we warmly invite you or your representatives to visit our modest facilities in Bishkek, where we translate educational material into Kyrgyz.
We thank Your Excellency for your time and attention to our respectful request. With the highest consideration, we remain,