World Watch Monitor

Leaders of registered Christian religious organisations received a letter from the Religious Affairs Department of the West Kazakhstan region last month that demanded the personal data of people under 18 who attend their religious services, Forum 18 reports.

The government asked for their full names, ages, place of study and personal number allocated by the state.  The letter said that the information was needed for “monitoring”.

An official from the Religious Affairs Department told Forum 18 that the letter “was not sent to Muslims, just to Christians, and selectively”. However, the official did not explain what “selectively” meant.

The deadline for the submission of the data was 10th April. Only five religious leaders replied to the letter, and each refused to provide any personal data of their congregation members, the Religious Affairs Department confirmed.

“We accepted this,” Forum 18 quoted the government official as saying. “We won’t do anything”.

Human rights defenders of Kazakhstan expressed concern about such demands and a religious leader outside West Kazakhstan Region insisted that his colleagues should not tell the state who the members of their congregations are. 

“If individuals want to tell the state, it is up to them,” he told Forum 18.