Monday, July 24, 2017

Tajikistan: Persecution | Protestant Pastor jailed for three years


The authorities have threatened family members, friends, and church members with reprisals if they reveal any details of the case, trial, or jailing to anyone.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK desk
Source/Credit: Forum 18
By Mushfig Bayram | July 20, 2017

Protestant Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov has been jailed for three years for allegedly "singing extremist songs in church and so inciting 'religious hatred'". Tajikistan has threatened family members, friends, and church members with reprisals if they reveal any details of the case, trial, or jailing.

Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov of Khujand's [Khojand's] Sunmin Sunbogym (Full Gospel) Protestant Church has been jailed for three years, Protestants who wish to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 on 14 July. Prisoner of conscience Kholmatov was jailed in early July by Khujand City Court in Tajikistan's Sogd Region.

The 42-year-old prisoner of conscience Kholmatov, who is married with three children, was first held in NSC secret police custody after his 10 April arrest. While on trial he was held in a police detention centre, and he has now been moved to an unknown prison.

The authorities have threatened family members, friends, and church members with reprisals if they reveal any details of the case, trial, or jailing to anyone. "We are afraid of more arrests or other punishments", Protestants told Forum 18.

The National Security Committee (NSC) secret police, together with the State Committee for Religious Affairs (SCRA) and other law-enforcement agencies, raided Sunmin Sunbogym's affiliated congregations in Sogd Region in early February. Officials closed down the congregation in the town of Konibodom in March after interrogating and torturing church members, and NSC secret police officers pressured employers into firing church members from their jobs. The NSC arrested Pastor Kholmatov on 10 April after they raided his Church also, and harassed and physically tortured with beatings its members.


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