Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Post 55--Persecution in Tajikistan

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 428 | Wed 18 Oct 2017

by Anneta Vyssotskaia


Tajikistan is a country in Central Asia bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, 
Kyrgyzstan and China. Tajikistan was part of the Soviet Union and became an 
independent country after the  dissolution of the USSR in 1992. Tajikistan 
suffered a five-year civil war which resulted in many deaths and had a 
devastating effect on the country's life and economy. It is officially the 
poorest country in Central Asia and one of the most corrupt countries in the 
world. Its population approaches nine million and is predominantly Muslim 
(about 98%).  

The Christian churches are a tiny minority and face a lot of pressure from 
the government and Muslim society. The law prohibits children and young 
people under 18 participating in religious activities in both churches and 
mosques. The greatest pressure is on the Christians with Muslim background 
who experience persecution at all levels - from their family members, the 
Muslim community and state officials. The pressure is especially strong in 
rural areas. The persecution can take different forms, from verbal  to 
physical abuse, beatings, abduction, home detention, discrimination, losing 
jobs and in other ways. The number of Christian churches remains small and 
there are many secret believers. It is illegal to meet for worship without 
state registration, but it is also extremely difficult and practically 
impossible to get state registration. For that reason many Tajik Christians 
meet secretly in house churches, facing the risk of police raids, detention, 
interrogation and fines.  

President Emomali Rahmon was bestowed the official title, 'The Founder of 
Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation'. During his 25 years' rule, 
the religious freedom situation in Tajikistan has worsened significantly. 
Since 2016, human rights in general are also considerably worse, with many 
arrests and imprisonment of members of the opposition parties, including top 

Christian churches also have been experiencing increasing pressure in 2017. 
In the capital city, Dushanbe, two kindergartens were closed because of the 
Christians employed and a Christian book being found. In March, a registered 
church in Konibodom was raided, believers interrogated, threatened and beaten 
and the church was closed. In June, a non-registered Baptist church in 
Dushanbe was raided, books confiscated, believers videotaped, interrogated 
and their details taken. Demolition of the church building was threatened. 
Other non-registered churches were raided, books confiscated, church leaders 
threatened and fined.  

In April, Bakhrom Kholmatov (42), the pastor of a registered Sunmin church in 
Khudzhand, was arrested, accused of inciting religious hatred and sentenced 
to three years' imprisonment. The accusations were based on Christian hymn 
books found in the church with songs like 'God's army is marching' and 'Our 
fight is not against flesh and blood', as well as the 'More Than a Carpenter' 
book by Josh McDowell. The judges considered they were all 'extremist 

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