Bahá'í Faith in Kazakhstan


Bahá'í Faith in Kazakhstan

The Bahá'í Faith in Kazakhstan began during the policy of oppression of religion in the former Soviet Union. Before that time, Kazakhstan, as part of the Russian Empire, would have had indirect contact with the Bahá'í Faith as far back as 1847.cite web | last = Momen | first = Moojan | title = Russia | work = Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith" | publisher = Bahá'í Academics Resource Library | date = | url = http://bahai-library.com/encyclopedia/russia.html | accessdate = 2008-04-14] Following the entrance of pioneers the community grew to be the largest religious community after Islam and Christianity, though only a few percent of the nation.cite web
coauthors = Government of Kazakhstan
title = Religious Groups in Kazakhstan
work = 2001 Census
publisher = Embassy of Kazakhstan to the USA & Canada
year = 2001
url = http://www.kazakhembus.com/files/Religious_Groups_in_Kazakhstan.htm
accessdate = 2008-05-21
] By 1994 the National Spiritual Assembly of Kazakhstan was elected [http://bahai-library.com/?file=handscause_statistics_1953-63&chapter=1#22 The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963] , Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.] and the community has begun to multiply its efforts across various interests.

History in the region

A part of the Russian Empire

The earliest relationship between the Bahá'í Faith and Kazakhstan comes under the sphere of the country's history with Russia. During that time, the history stretches back to 1847 when the Russian ambassador to Tehran, Prince Dimitri Ivanovich Dolgorukov, requested that the Báb, the herald to the Bahá'í Faith who was imprisoned at Maku, be moved elsewhere; he also condemned the massacres of Iranian religionists, and asked for the release of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith.cite web | coauthors = Local Spiritual Assembly of Kyiv | title = Statement on the history of the Bahá'í Faith in Soviet Union | work = Official Website of the Bahá'ís of Kyiv | publisher = Local Spiritual Assembly of Kyiv | year = 2007-8 | url = http://bahai.kiev.ua/history9.html | accessdate = 2008-04-19] cite web | last = Momen | first = Moojan | title = Russia | work = Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith" | publisher = Bahá'í Academics Resource Library | date = | url = http://bahai-library.com/encyclopedia/russia.html | accessdate = 2008-04-14] In the 1880s an organized community of Bahá'ís was in Ashgabat and later built the first Bahá'í House of Worship in 1913-1918.

oviet period

By the time of the October Revolution Bahá'ís had spread through Central Asia and Caucasus with the community in Ashgabat numbering about two thousand people; the community of Ashgabat had developed a library, hospital, hotel and Bahá'í schools — including a school for girls — all open to all people regardless of religion. After the October Revolution and the ban on religion, the Bahá'ís, striclty adhering to their principle of obedience to legal government, abandoned its administration and its properties were nationalized. [cite book | last = Effendi | first = Shoghi | authorlink = Shoghi Effendi | title = The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh | publisher = US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 first pocket-size edition | date = 1936-03-11 | location = Haifa, Palestine | pages = pp. 64-67 | url = http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-34.html#pg64| isbn = ] By 1938, after numerous arrests and an policy of oppression of religion, most Bahá'ís were sent to prisons and camps or sent abroad. There were at this time some 1,400 families of Bahá'ís resident in Ashgabat. The authorities suddenly arrested every adult male Bahá'í. The women and children were deported to Iran, while the men were either deported or sentenced to long terms of imprisonment or exile. Many were sent to Pavlodar in northern Kazakhstan.cite conference | last = Momen | first = Moojan | title = Turkmenistan | booktitle = draft of "A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith" | publisher = Bahá'í Library Online | year = 1994 | url = http://www.northill.demon.co.uk/relstud/turkmnst.htm | accessdate = 2008-05-21] Bahá'í communities in 38 cities ceased to exist.

Bahá'ís had managed to re-enter various countries of the Eastern Bloc through the 1950s, following a plan of the head of the religion at the time, Shoghi Effendi. By 1953 the first pioneers arrived in Kazakhstan. [cite book | last = Effendi | first = Shoghi | authorlink = Shoghi Effendi | title = Citadel of Faith | publisher = US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 third printing | year = collected letters from 1947-57 | location = Haifa, Palestine | pages = p. 107 | url = http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/CF/cf-9.html#pg107 | isbn = ]

Development of the community

There is evidence that the Bahá'í Faith started to grow across the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In 1991 a Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the Soviet Union was elected but was quickly split among its former members. In 1992, a regional National Spiritual Assembly for the whole of Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) was formed with its seat in Ashkhabad. In 1994 the National Spiritual Assembly of Kazakhstan was elected.

As of 2001, 25 Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies or smaller groups had registered with the government - and these communities totaled 25 of 55 of the organized communities of "nontraditional" religions ("traditional" being defined by the Kazakh government as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism.) Local Spiritual Assemblies had been registered in many Kazakh cities.cite news
last = Balkina
first = Valeriya
title = Kazakhstan "target of religious aggression" from Bahai faith [sic]
work = Ekspress-K (Kazakhstan)
pages = pp.3-4
language = English
publisher = BBC Monitoring Central Asia - Ekspress-K
year = 2001
url = http://www.bahaindex.com/news/kazakhstan-target-of-religious-aggression-from-bahai-faith-paper.html
accessdate = 2008-05-21
] There were more registered communities of Bahá'ís than Jews and Buddhists and the rest of the non-Moslem, non-Christian religious communities. In 1999 - the closest national census - 7% of the religious national population of 14,896,000 (or just over 1 million) were not Muslim or Christian.

Hostile atmosphere in 2000-2002

*There are reports of oppression of religious minorities as early as 2000. [cite web
coauthors = U.S. State Department
title = Kazakhstan - International Religious Freedom Report 2001
publisher = The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair
date = 2001-10-26
url = http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2001/5574.htm
accessdate = 2008-05-21
]
*A 2001 hostile newspaper article characterized the religion with various hostile statements as part of a generally hostile environment against several minority religions according to United States government reports. [cite web
coauthors = U.S. State Department
title = Kazakhstan - International Religious Freedom Report 2002
publisher = The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair
date = 2002-10-07
url = http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2002/13942.htm
accessdate = 2008-05-21
] See Freedom of religion in Kazakhstan.
*The government of Kazakhstan voted against a United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the "Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran" (UN document no. A/C.3/56/L.50) on 19 December 2001. Kazakhstan was among 49 votes against, 72 for, and 68 either didn't vote or abstained. [cite web
last = Community
first = Bahá'í International
authorlink = Bahá'í International Community
title = UN General Assembly Resolution 2001
work = Bahá'í Topics
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
year = 2006
url = http://www.info.bahai.org/article-1-8-3-23.html
accessdate = 2008-05-21
] See Persecution of Bahá'ís.
* In 2002 a draft law more oppressive to religious minorities increased social pressure against them but by 2004 these draft laws and policies had ended and members of many religious minorities like the Baháí Faith considered the situation no longer repressive. [cite news
last = Rotar
first = Igor
title = KAZAKHSTAN: Religious freedom survey, February 2004
work = F18News Archive
language = English
publisher = F18News
date = 2004-02-10
url = http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=249
accessdate = 2008-05-21
]

Modern community

In 2002 Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas, held in Orlando, Florida had an attendee from Kazakhstan. [Citation
last = Community
first = Bahá'í International
title = Colored ribbons, a gold mine and a path to peace
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
date = 2003-02-10
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/189
]

A Kazakhstan citizen worked at at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa and volunteered participation with the Inspirit troupe which toured Vilnius in 2004. [Citation
last = Community
first = Bahá'í International
title = International cast in musical theater
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
date = 2004-08-10
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/320
]

A "Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace," which was held on 22 June 2005 had Bahá'í speakers rising in support of the advancement of women and the conference was co-sponsored by several governments including Kazakhstan's, and at which the Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs also spoke. [Citation
last = Community
first = Bahá'í International
title = Unity stressed at interfaith conference
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
publisher = Bahá'í International Community
date = 2005-06-28
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/379
]

In 2005 Kazakhstan government statistics reported to the United States indicated 44 registered "nontraditional" religious groups during the reporting period, (recall from above that 25 had been Bahá'í as late as 2001). The U.S. State Department says:

Kazakh laws were amended in 2005 to reinforce registration requirements and clarify that religious groups must register with both the central government and the local governments of individual regions (oblasts) in which they have congregations. Prior to these amendments, the government required religious organizations to register only if they wished to be accorded legal status in order to buy or rent property, hire employees, or engage in other legal transactions. Although the amended national religion laws explicitly require religious organizations to register with the government, it continues to provide that all persons are free to practice their religion "alone or together with others." To register, a religious organization must have at least ten members and submit an application to the Ministry of Justice. [cite web
coauthors = U.S. State Department
title = Kazakhstan - International Religious Freedom Report 2007
publisher = The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair
date = 2007-9-14
url = http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90229.htm
accessdate = 2008-05-21
]

ee also

*Religion in Kazakhstan
*Freedom of religion in Kazakhstan
*History of Kazakhstan
*List of cities in Kazakhstan
*Bahá'í Faith in Ukraine

References

External links

* [http://info.bahai.org/article-1-3-6-5.html Photogallery of the Eighth International Convention] (1998), one shows the members of the 1998 National Spiritual Assembly of Kazakhstan.


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