Kazakhstan’s new restrictions to ‘flagrantly’ violate religious rights

At the facility of one of the presbyterian Churches in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is set to pass a new set of restrictions on freedom of religion or belief that violate international human rights obligations, according to regional news service Forum 18. The proposed amendments to Kazakhstan’s religion law are currently with the Prime Minister and are expected to be signed into law . . . Read More

Azerbaijan: ‘no fair trial’ for house-church leader appealing against fine

Hamid Shabanov in 2007. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
An Azerbaijani man fined for leading a “house church” without state permission has not been treated fairly during his appeal against the fine, a local source has told World Watch Monitor. The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said there have been “multiple violations of law and process” against Hamid . . . Read More

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center
Over 80 countries favour a specific religion, either officially as a state religion or tacitly through special treatment, according to a new report by the US-based Pew Research Center. Islam is the most common state religion – 27 countries have it as their official religion, including 16 of the 20 . . . Read More

Silence on human rights ‘deafening’ as Turkmenistan hosts Asian Games

Silence on human rights ‘deafening’ as Turkmenistan hosts Asian Games
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) – and by virtue so too the International Olympic Committee – has come under fierce criticism for allowing Turkmenistan to stage the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, beginning this Sunday (17 September) in Ashgabat, while making “no visible efforts to urge the . . . Read More

Iran sentences four more Christians to 10 years in jail for ‘missionary activities’

Iran sentences four more Christians to 10 years in jail for ‘missionary activities’
One Iranian and three Azerbaijani Christians have been found guilty of “missionary activities” and “actions against national security” in Iran and sentenced to 10 years in prison. World Watch Monitor understands that the three Azerbaijanis – Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov and Bahram Nasibov – are unlikely to serve their sentences . . . Read More

Turkmenistan’s secret additions to already restrictive Religion Law

Turkmenistan’s secret additions to already restrictive Religion Law
It’s been over a year since the Central Asian state of Turkmenistan added further restrictions to its Religion Law, but the changes were introduced in such secrecy that few knew about them until well after the event. It wasn’t until January this year that regional news agency Forum 18 shed . . . Read More

UPDATE: Iran allows Azerbaijani Christians home on ‘conditional’ release

UPDATE: Iran allows Azerbaijani Christians home on ‘conditional’ release
Three Azerbaijani Christians, accused by Iran of “missionary activities”, were allowed to go home on Sunday (6 Nov.), after more than four months in prison, Middle East Concern (MEC) said. Eldar Gurbanov, 48, Yusif Farhadov, 51, Bahram Nasibov, 37, and an Iranian, Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, have been released from prison, . . . Read More

Central Asia in the spotlight as Azerbaijan hosts European Games

Central Asia in the spotlight as Azerbaijan hosts European Games
In a somewhat geographically and culturally challenging development, the first ever European Games begins today (13 June) in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is more usually identified as a Central Asian country, but the European Union considers it to be in what it calls its “European Neighbourhood” – what others . . . Read More