Evangelicals call for peace in Kazakhstan

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Evangelicals have voiced "grave concern" over the current political and social unrest in Kazakhstan.

Dozens of protesters have been killed in recent days in the worst violence to hit the Central Asian country in the 30 years since it gained independence.

Public buildings have been ransacked and around 2,000 people arrested by the interior ministry.

Karim Masimov, former national security chief, was detained on Thursday accused of high treason.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has invited Russian forces in to restore order in a move questioned by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Central Asia Evangelical Alliance (CEAE) have issued a joint appeal for peace in which they urge government officials to take steps to de-escalate the unrest.

The statement from WEA Secretary General, Bishop Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, and CAEA General Secretary, Rev Peter Kremeruk, calls for the immediate cessation of violence and for a process of dialogue to commence.

"There are many challenges around the world with the continuing economic impacts of Covid-19 that have led to tensions within many nations," they said.

"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."