Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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(Forum 18) – Under intense international pressure over its repression of religious life, Turkmenistan ‘s president Saparmurat Niyazov has today (13 May) revoked the punishments introduced into the Criminal Code last year on those involved in unregistered religious activity. Before these punishments were introduced, Turkmenistan already had tight controls -which it still maintains – on unregistered religious activity. All Shia Muslim, Baptist, Pentecostal, Adventist, Armenian Apostolic, Lutheran, Hare Krishna, Jehovah’s Witness, Baha’i and Jewish activity was de facto if not de jure treated as illegal. Believers were, even before the de jure criminalization of unregistered activity, fined, detained, beaten, threatened, sacked from their jobs, had their homes confiscated, banished to remote parts of the country or deported in retaliation for involvement in unregistered religious activity. De jure decriminalization is not expected to change the established pattern of de facto criminalization.