Sep 16, 2022

In 2018, Kazakhstan arrested a group of men for participating in a WhatsApp group chat about Islam and sentenced them to multiple years in prison on fictitious terrorism and incitement-related charges. Last fall, the UN Working Group issued an opinion that their detention was arbitrary and that they should be released. Although the government of Kazakhstan has released a few individuals related to this case, five men still remain imprisoned.

Kazakhstan has regularly engaged with the U.S. government about possible religious freedom reforms, but it continues to severely limit this right through its 2011 religion law. USCIRF recommended in its 2022 Annual Report that the State Department place Kazakhstan on its Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom.

Freedom Now’s Legal Officer, Adam Lhedmat, and Advocacy Director, Matthew Schaaf join us today to discuss the case of the 5 Sunni Muslims who remain imprisoned for discussing their religious beliefs over WhatsApp.

Read USCIRF’s 2022 Annual Report Chapter on Kazakhstan