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TurkmenistanMap reflects the 30 most recent Persecution Reports. Click HERE for the Map Legend.
As religious persecution continues to rise in Central Asia, unchecked by five nations in the region, it remains one of the most restrictive places in the world to be a Christian.
Police in Turkmenistan have taken to harassing the family and congregation of Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev, who is a former religious prisoner of conscience. One of the pastor’s relatives reported that a police officer threatened to “tear off” her head if she adopted “their faith.” In addition to interrogations, all the individuals were finger printed, required to bring copies of their picture, and had the entirety of their lives documented. While police say they are not harassing these believers, that is obviously not the case.
A summer Christian camp for children was raided by police officers in Turkmenistan. The police came in and questioned the children for more than three hours, searched the premises, took video of the camp, and ordered the children sent home. They then issued two fines against the organizers of the camp for holding an unregistered church meeting and not meeting sanitary norms, both of which the church leaders who organized the camp reject as unjustified.
Persecution in Turkmenistan continues with restriction on Religious literature. In this case, a woman reading Christian literature at work. After her boss complained to officials they showed up at her house, confiscated all religious material, and then proceeded to the house of the man who gave her the literature and confiscated his religious material as well.
“Religious literature is under tight state control. No religious literature may be published in Turkmenistan or imported into the country without permission from the Gengesh. Each title and the number of copies must be specifically approved. State postal authorities hold all religious literature received from abroad, releasing it only when the Gengesh has given written approval. The few books that are approved are stamped as approved by the Gengesh.”
With disturbing reports of persecution against Christians trickling out of a region that appears to exist in the shadows, religious freedom in Central Asia remains a matter of grave concern for the rest of the world.
Turkmenistan's government has changed its officially permitted Muslim administration, including the Chief Mufti and regional imams, Forum 18 News Service reports. It remains to be seen whether the imams will play a role in administering the religious affairs of the country, which in the past have led to restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. The appointments came as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church complained of the difficulties of recovering Soviet-confiscated Orthodox churches and as the Armenian Apostolic Church is battling to resume its activity among Turkmenistan's ethnic Armenian minority.
While Christians are subjected to extreme levels of repression in Turkmenistan; news comes out only sporadically from this former Soviet nation. It is one of the countries where persecution "statistics" completely fail to bring out the suffering of minorities.
With increasing restrictions on Christians in Turkmenistan, it is interesting that authorities are taking the burning of a church building seriously. With so many Christians receiving penalties, fines and jail time for their religious involvement, the pastor of the church is nervous from all the attention. "It just seemed like--the questions that they were asking him--they were looking for something other than just a church fire. He's not really sure what the authorities are doing." It’s still unclear whether this was arson or an accident. Regardless, the hits just keep coming for believers in Turkmenistan.
This article sheds light on the state of the persecuted church in the 10/40 window. This region of the world sees the highest amount of persecution and is also where most of ICC’s projects are based. Christians often see “their lives threatened, homes destroyed, rights violated and loved ones imprisoned, all because of embracing faith in Jesus Christ".
Officials in Turkmenistan are turning up the heat on religious groups. Most notably was the recent harassing of a teacher, who was pulled out of the classroom and interrogated and pressured to reveal the names of other Christians. Also, the number of raids on churches and fining of Christians for being involved in religious activity has greatly increased. Making things difficult for religious groups is typical for this government.
Christians in Central Asia have suffered intense investigation, raids, beatings and fines from authorities in the last few weeks. From the beating of an elderly woman in Turkmenistan to a masked police search of a church in Kazakhstan, Christians are concerned at the increase of attention from authorities. This article summarizes many of the most recent incidences in these Central Asian countries.
Further updates on the situation in Turkmenistan continue to trickle through the news. This article is a great sum-up of the recent beatings, seizure of literature and fines that Baptists in Turkmenistan have suffered through.
Eleven Baptists, one as young as 17, were fined two months of wages for holding a worship service at the end of last month. Turkmenistan has made meetings between Protestant Christians illegal.
In a raid earlier this week police in Turkmenistan attacked an elderly Protestant couple and questioned more than a dozen church members over their involvement in religious activity.
Children can have their grades lowered and be ridiculed by teachers because they’re Christians. There were at least three trials and subsequent exorbitant fines against Christians who participated in unregistered religious community. (Read: Bible study in the privacy of your home.) In one of these cases the Christian was told by the judge that he was not allowed to appeal the verdict. Christians have even been told that if they continue to go to church they could lose their jobs or go to jail. "The situation has got markedly worse since July and we don't know why," said one Christian wishing to remain anonymous. We find this outrageous, even though it comes as no surprise.
Raymond Ibrahim writes for the Gatestone Institute that, “The bloody jihad waged against Nigeria's Christians, which has seen hundreds killed this year alone, now includes plans to kill Christians with poisoned food, as part of the Islamic organization Boko Haram's stated goal of purging Nigeria of all Christian presence.” Ibrahim’s series, titled ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians,’ is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
Turk Christians suffer from unfair laws and treatment by the government. Required to jump through hoops to register their churches, their applications are almost always turned down for one silly reason or another. Due to this, many churches meet unofficially and are raided by the government, and their property seized. One such raid happened earlier this month, followed by “a key Turkmen pastor having a serious automobile accident.” Please pray.
“After the local police officer in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabad found Bibles in the possessions of three guests at a local Protestant's home, all four were taken to the government's Council for Religious Affairs for questioning, then held for an hour in an overcrowded detention cell, before being taken to court,” Forum 18 News Service reports.
Raymond Ibrahim reports for Gatestone Institute that, “Half of Iraq's indigenous Christians are gone, due to the unleashed forces of jihad [holy war]. Many Christians fled to nearby Syria; yet, as the Assad regime comes under attack from al-Qaeda and others… Christians are experiencing a level of persecution unprecedented in the nation's modern history.” Ibrahim’s series, titled ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians,’ is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
“Ahead of the examination of Turkmenistan's record at the UN Human Rights Committee… freedom of religion or belief in Turkmenistan, and other intertwined human rights, remain highly restricted,” Forum 18 News Service reports.
“Nearly 18 months after his August 2010 arrest in Turkmenistan, Protestant pastor Ilmurad Nurliev was among a group of about 230 prisoners freed under amnesty on 18 February from a labour camp,” Forum 18 News Service reports.
“After Protestant Begjan Shirmedov tried to print copies of a small book of his religious poetry, a local religious affairs official waiting for him at the printing shop took him to the Police 6th Department, responsible for counter-terrorism and organised crime work,” Forum 18 News Service reports.
“Members of a Baptist Church from northern Turkmenistan had just arrived for a shared summer holiday in Avaza on the Caspian Sea when the local police officer, eight officials in civilian clothes and the imam… raided their accommodation,” Forum 18 News Service reports.
"While there have been instances of progress over the last year, most of the news is bad. In its latest annual assessment the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom finds 'severe violations of religious freedom and related human rights over the past year'", reports Doug Bandow.
Turkmenistan: Health deteriorating for Protestant pastor, one of ten religious prisoners of conscience in labor campMonday, May 2nd, 2011
Concern is growing for imprisoned Protestant Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev, who is being refused medical treatment for his diabetes, for which he regularly visited a hospital before his August 2010 arrest, Forum 18 News Service reports.
Turkmenistan lifts import controls for Orthodox but not other religions.
Turkmenistan: “Principles of mercy, justice and humanism” fail to free religious prisoners of conscienceThursday, March 10th, 2011
Nine known religious prisoners in Turkmenistan, including Christians, have not been released despite a UN appeal to the Turkmen government to respect religious freedom, Forum 18 News Service reports.
Congressman advocates for a Bill to establish a Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia to help protect persecuted Christians.
Support wives and children of imprisoned or martyed pastorsread more
Spread the gospel by supporting underground pastorsread more
Save women from abduction and sexual exploitationread more
Help rebuild communities devastated by persecutionread more
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ICC is constantly monitoring the state of Christian persecution in countries around the world and looking for ways that we can act as bridge between our supporters and the persecuted church. Beyond the projects you see above, we are working in many other areas to provide practical assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ. View our other projects page to understand more of our work and keep up to date on our current projects.