06ASTANA903, KAZAKHSTAN: NO PROGRESS IN HARE KRISHNA SITUATION

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06ASTANA903.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ASTANA903 2006-12-21 07:08 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0798
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0903/01 3550708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210708Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8005
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0405
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0443
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1657

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000903 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA), DRL/PHD (C. KUCHTA-HELBLING) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: NO PROGRESS IN HARE KRISHNA SITUATION 
 
REF: A. ASTANA 651, B. ASTANA 668 
 
ASTANA 00000903  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  There has been no progress in resolving the 
dispute surrounding the Hare Krishna community near Almaty, where 13 
homes were demolished on November 21.  On November 26, legal 
proceedings were launched against an additional five homes.  Despite 
assurances by the Foreign Minister that the GOK fully understood the 
damage the situation was causing to Kazakhstan's international 
reputation, the MFA on December 14 protested the embassy's statement 
on the matter, which was provided to media and human rights 
organizations that contacted the embassy press office.  The MFA also 
passed along a "decision" of the Ministry of Justice commission 
charged with resolving the situation, purportedly issued before the 
demolitions.  The commission is scheduled to hold its final meeting 
December 22.  End summary. 
 
-------------------------- 
MFA Protests our Statement 
-------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On December 14, Serzhan Abdykarimov, head of the MFA's 
Europe and Americas division, requested a meeting with Pol-Econ 
Chief to protest the Embassy's comments to the press regarding the 
November 21 demolition of Hare Krishna homes (Ref A).  Abdykarimov 
handed over a non-paper describing the Embassy's statement as 
"inappropriate" because it raised questions about the legal basis 
for the proceedings.  The non-paper noted that "The decision made by 
the highest judicial authority of the Republic of Kazakhstan is 
final and cannot be subjected to official comments or appraisal by 
representative offices of foreign states accredited to the Republic 
of Kazakhstan.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs... points out that 
the decisions of the judicial authorities of the Republic of 
Kazakhstan should be observed and respected." 
 
3. (SBU) The non-paper also asserted that because there are ten 
registered Krishna Consciousness associations in Kazakhstan, there 
is no religious motivation to the land issue.  (Comment:  An 
interesting denial given that post has never asserted that religious 
discrimination lies at the root of the problem.  End comment.) 
 
4. (SBU) Pol-Econ Chief noted that in discussing the incident with 
the Ambassador, Foreign Minister Tokayev had been quite frank 
regarding the ill-advised nature of the decision and the way it was 
carried out (Ref B).  Abdykarimov denied that the protest 
represented any change in the MFA's position on the matter, 
underscoring his ministry's position that judicial decisions may not 
be questioned or criticized. 
 
5. (U) Following is the text of the embassy statement, which the 
press office provided in response to queries from the Associated 
Press, Reuters, Radio Free Europe, the Kazakhstani International 
Bureau for Human Rights, and the Krishnas. 
 
"The U.S. Embassy is concerned that Karasai district authorities are 
continuing their aggressive campaign against the Hare Krishna 
commune outside of Almaty.  On November 21, Karasai district 
authorities demolished several homes at the commune.   Homeowners 
were left in the cold, and many of their possessions were destroyed. 
 The remaining residents were left without electricity and heat. 
 
The embassy has several concerns regarding the legal basis for the 
actions against the Hare Krishna community.  Regardless of the 
merits of the underlying case, the forceful eviction of homeowners 
in freezing temperatures and the destruction of their possessions, 
contradicts principles of due process and fairness.  It is 
particularly disturbing that the authorities took such action before 
the special commission charged with finding an equitable solution to 
the situation had issued its recommendations. 
 
It is unfortunate that more than a week later, the authorities have 
done nothing to remedy the situation.  The situation in fact appears 
to be deteriorating; authorities this week scheduled new court 
hearings on additional properties in the commune. 
 
The embassy urges the Karasai district authorities to refrain from 
any further aggressive actions against the Hare Krishnas, and to 
work toward a fair, lawful, and peaceful resolution of the ongoing 
legal dispute." 
 
------------------------------------------- 
And Provides Puzzling Commission "Decision" 
------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Pol-Econ Chief drew Abdykarimov's attention to the key 
point in the statement, the fact that the demolitions were carried 
out before the commission established by the Ministry of Justice had 
 
ASTANA 00000903  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
acted.  Kazakhstani authorities had assured both the Hare Krishnas 
and the international community (including in a November 23 
diplomatic note) that no action would be taken until the commission 
had reached a decision.  Abdykarimov handed over an undated document 
entitled "Decision of the Comm
ission on Issues Connected with Land 
Disputes of the Religious Association 'International Society for 
Krishna Consciousness' in the Karasay District of Almaty Oblast," 
signed by commission chair Amanbek Mukhashov.  Abdykarimov was 
unable to say when the document had been produced, but claimed that 
it had been finalized before the November 21 demolitions.  (Note: 
Post has been in regular contact with Mukhashov, deputy chairman of 
the MOJ's Religious Issues Committee, but was never informed that a 
decision had been reached.  On December 20, however, Mukhashov 
claimed to Pol FSN that the document had been issued October 2.  End 
note.) 
 
7. (SBU) Post shared the document on December 15 with the local OSCE 
Centre and the Hare Krishna community, neither of which had seen it 
before.  The Krishnas and the Almaty Helsinki Committee (AHC) 
immediately issued public statements criticizing both the content of 
the document and the fact that members of the Commission such as the 
AHC, the Kazakhstani International Bureau for Human Rights, and the 
Krishnas themselves had no input on the document. 
 
8. (U) Embassy translation of Commission's decision: 
 
Having studied the current situation connected with land disputes of 
the religious society (hereafter - RS) "Society for Krishna 
Consciousness" in the Karasai district of the Almaty oblast and 
having listened to members of the producers' cooperative (hereafter 
- PC) "Sadovodcheskoye Tovarischestvo Ptitsevod," "Sadovodcheskoye 
Tovarischestvo Priozerye," members of RS "Society for Krishna 
Consciousness" as well as representatives of Karasai district 
Akimat, territorial bodies on the management of Almaty oblast land 
resources and the coordinator of RS "Society for Krishna 
Consciousness" in Central Asia, Mr. Govinda Swami, the Commission 
decided: 
 
1.  To recommend the Akim of the Karasai district: 
1) To solve disputable points on the use of land plots and summer 
cottages on the territory of the Eltai rural district in accordance 
with the procedures established by the legislation of the RK; 
2) Take measures to exclude further defects in land privatization in 
the Eltai rural district and control carrying out of requirements of 
the land and  architectural-town-planning legislation of the RK; 
3) Continue suspension of privatization of cottages and 
horticultural plots of land taking into account requirements of the 
land and architectural-town-planning legislation of the RK; 
2. Recommend the management of RS "Society of Krishna 
Consciousness": 
1) To appeal to local bodies of the Karasai district in accordance 
with the procedures established by legislation to allocate a land 
plot for the construction of religious facilities; 
2) Carry out divine services, religious rites and ceremonies 
according to the requirements of the Law of the RK "On the Freedom 
of Confession and Religious Associations." 
3) Lay out objectively the current problems in their appeals to 
state bodies, international organizations and mass media on issues 
of interaction with local bodies. 
3. Recommend members of RS "Society for Krishna Consciousness" and 
PC "Sadovodcheskoye Tovarischestvo Priozerye" to solve disputable 
issues on the use of land plots and cottages on the territory of the 
Eltai rural district of the Karasai district in accordance with the 
procedures established by the legislation of the RK. 
4. [Recommend] that the Department of Justice of Almaty Oblast and 
the Council on ties with religious organizations of the Almaty 
Oblast, in light of the situation that has developed, control the 
observance of legislation on the freedom of confession and religious 
associations by local bodies, religious associations, and other 
legal and physical entities in the Karasai district. 
 
End translation. 
 
---------- 
Next Steps 
---------- 
 
9. (SBU) The Krishnas informed post that they have been invited by 
Mukhashov to a December 22 meeting of the Commission in Astana. 
They do not yet know who will represent them as Govinda Swami 
remains in India with little likelihood of receiving a new 
Kazakhstani visa.  Mukhashov told Pol FSN that the meeting would 
finalize the issues related to the land dispute. 
 
10. (SBU) On December 20, Krishna leader Govinda Swami (an Amcit) 
wrote to Ambassador Ordway and Ambassador John Hanford to request 
 
ASTANA 00000903  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
that the U.S. "directly mediate or otherwise help negotiate a fair 
and reasonable solution."  The Krishnas are still awaiting the court 
hearing on cases launched November 26 against five additional homes 
in their settlement. 
 
11. (SBU) Comment:  While it would not be appropriate for post to 
act as a mediator in this situation, we will continue to press this 
issue with the GOK at all levels.  Post believes there is still a 
chance that the Kazakhstani authorities might decide to resolve the 
dispute equitably rather than further undermine their OSCE CiO bid 
and reputation as a government that protects both religious 
minorities and property rights.  End comment. 
 
MILAS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: