(Forum 18) – Anti-Terrorist police raided last Sunday’s (14 August) worship service of a registered Baptist church, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. After the service, Forum 18 was told, police questioned church members, confiscating all Turkmen-language Bibles and Hymnbooks. The police took particular interest in children at the service, and were diappointed they were in the service with parental permission. Next day, church leaders were summoned for “more thorough interrogation,” and told that the Baptist Church ‘s national state registration is “not valid for northern Turkmenistan .” This claim has been made elsewhere in the country, and Baptists strongly dispute it. Police pressured church leaders to sign a declaration that the church will not meet until it had state registration.
“We met for worship before ‘your registration’ existed, and will continue to meet now we have registration, even if you did not recognise it. And we will continue to meet in future as our faith does not depend on registration,” church leaders told police.