Posted May 14, 2007
With the judgment passed by the Kazakhstan Supreme Court on May 8, 2007 the land of the Hare Krishna community in Almaty province may be confiscated in favor of the government at any moment.
The Supreme Court reversed its own judgment made on June 30, 2005, which had enabled the community to use 116 acres (48 hectares) of land and receive the right of ownership after processing respective documents by the registering bodies of the Karasai district. These bodies have never registered the plots in favor of the Religious Organization Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) because the land was withheld by the Karasai District Court at the request of the local Hakim.
The local ISKCON chairperson told the Panel of the Supreme Court that they had never been informed of the proceedings or the decisions of the lower courts.
The ISKCON chairperson requested the court to postpone the hearing as she needed time to study the case and consult lawyers. However, the court decided to conduct the hearing immediately and only gave her a few hours to study the lower court rulings. Thus the defendant was left without legal protection, unable to retain an attorney.
During the hearing she again demanded that the court session should be postponed for her to have time to retain an attorney and properly study the case. However, the Civil Panel of the Supreme Court dismissed this motion and decided to reverse its own judgment of June 30, 2005, which had given the right of land use to the Society for Krishna Consciousness.
The judgment of the Supreme Court came into force from the moment it was read. It means that at any moment the land of the main centre of the Society for Krishna Consciousness can be confiscated and transferred to the Karasai district land reserve.
The conflict around the community has been going on since 2004. At that time the administration of the Karasai district started a series of trials against the members of the Hare Krishna community. As a result of these trials, 13 homes were demolished last November.
In March of 2007 the government of Kazakhstan showed an intention to resolve the conflict by way of negotiation with the community and declared the situation to be the result of bad governance of the local authorities. However, to the present moment no practical steps have been taken by the government to resolve the situation.
Thirteen more devotee houses may be demolished at any moment. With this court judgment, any day they may be forced to vacate the land wherein the Society is registered. Fifty devotees and 30 cows will be left without a roof, their temple will cease to exist, and the loss of the legal address actually means that the Society for Krishna Consciousness will be liquidated in Almaty province.