TURKMENISTAN: Baptist Tortured.

by Malcolm Walker, Keston News Service, 18 May 2001

The German based Friedensstimme Mission has received information from Baptist sources in Turkmenistan claiming that Dimitri Melnichenko, a member of an Evangelical Baptist Church in Ashgabat, has been subjected to torture by agents of the Turkmen government's National Security Committee (the KNB, formerly the KGB). According to the report from Turkmenistan which is dated 17 May, Melnichenko was called up for military service on Thursday 10 May and taken to a military unit in Serdar (Kizyl-Arvat). On Tuesday 15 May he was seized, taken to the local offices of the KNB and tortured.

"He was forced to sit..., beaten on the knees, on the buttocks and on the head with a truncheon. He was insulted and humiliated in an attempt to force him to swear the oath. When he continued to refuse to swear the oath they took a dynamo from a field telephone and forced him to hold the ends of the wires. Next they fastened the wires to his ears and sent the current through his head. His face was distorted and the saliva in his mouth became frothy and acrid. Then they put a hood over his head..., and beat him about the face and neck. At about 8.00 pm they took him to the guardroom where he was kept overnight and in the morning he was escorted back to his unit."

Although Keston News Service has not been able to verify the report of Melnichenko's torture independently, information from sources within the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians/Baptists has a long track record of reliability.

Melnichenko's church in Ashgabat belongs to the Council of Churches and has been subjected to repeated government harassment (see KNS 15 June 1999).

The address of Melnichenko's divisional commander is:

 Turkmenistan,

 745150 Balkan Region,

 Serdar,

 v/ch 01123

 Colonel Murat Khusainov

The address of Melnichenko's unit is:

 Turkmenistan,

 745150 Balkan Region,

 Serdar,

 v/ch 17861,

 pekhota <<molodezhnoe popolnenie>>

 Melnichenko Dmitri

(END)