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Christians call for an end to violence in Kazakhstan

by Donna Birrell

The World Evangelical Alliance has called for an immediate end to the violence in Kazakhstan.

It comes as the Pope says he is praying for the victims of the unrest.

More than 160 people have been killed in Kazakhstan over the last week, with the worst of the violence in the main city of Almaty. Demonstrators have seized government buildings and set some on fire, according to the Kazakh ministry.

The country's ombudswoman for children's rights said that three of those killed were minors, including a four-year-old girl.

Kazakh authorities say 16 police or national guard members have been killed in the violence.

Demonstrations began a week ago against a fuel price rise before exploding into a wider protest against the government. The former head of Kazakhstan's counter-intelligence and anti-terror agency has been arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

In a joint statement, Bishop Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the WEA, and Rev Peter Kremeruk, General Secretary of the Central Asia Evangelical Alliance said : 

“There are many challenges around the world with the continuing economic impacts of COVID-19 that have led to tensions within many nations. However, we urge government officials in Kazakhstan to de-escalate social unrest and we urge the citizens of Kazakhstan to express their grievances peacefully. We specifically call for all those involved in the conflict to engage in a process of dialogue, working towards lasting peace and reconciliation and a resolution to the underlying issues. We assure the Kazakh people of our sincere prayers at this time.”

At his weekly gathering in St Peter’s Square in Rome today, the Pope called for calm to be restored in  Kazakhstan :

“I have learned with sorrow that there have been victims during the protests that have taken place in recent days in Kazakhstan.

"I pray for them and for their families, and I hope that social harmony will be restored as soon as possible through the search for dialogue, justice and the common good.''

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