Issue 3, Article 15, 13 March 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.

Monday 13 March 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

In the wake of the expulsion of almost all foreign Christians involved in
religious work in Turkmenistan, the Turkmen government is now taking steps
to stifle all minority Christian activity by subjecting Turkmen citizens involved
in Christian work to `internal deportation'. The political police, the National
Security Committee (KNB, former KGB), have informed SHOKHRAT
PIRIYEV, a Christian pastor in the capital Ashgabad, that he is to be deported
back to his home town of Turkmenabad (formerly Chardjou). He has been
informed that his permit to live in Ashgabad is faulty and has been told to
report once again to the KNB tomorrow, 14 March.

Sources told Keston News Service on 12 March that the KNB raided Piriyev's
home in Ashgabad on 7 March and seized the family's private religious
literature. Piriyev's passport was also taken and he was taken to the holding
centre for those without proper documentation. He and his family were then
taken to the station to be sent back to Turkmenabad. However, Piriyev and his
family managed to persuade the KNB to allow the family to remain while he
sought to recover his passport.

Piriyev has also been seeking to regain his car, which was confiscated during a
raid on a Protestant house church in Bezmein near Ashgabad on 23 February
(see KNS 29 February 2000). One reason the authorities have given Piriyev for
refusing to return the car is that he has no passport.

Piriyev and his family are staying with his brother BATYR PIRIYEV in
Ashgabad. `Today, 12 March, officers of the KNB came to Batyr's home,' the
source told Keston. `Shokhrat, Batyr and their families were watching
television. However, the people from the KNB thought they were reading the
Bible and told them that according to Article 205 [of the Administrative Code]
it was not allowed to meet.' The KNB confiscated religious literature from
Batyr Piriyev's home. `The KNB ordered Shokhrat, Batyr and another brother,
UMID, to go to the republic's KNB headquarters with their passports the
following day, 13 March.'

Sources told Keston on 13 March that the three went to the KNB as instructed.
However, only Shokhrat was held for some time while they interviewed him.
`They told him that his permit was faulty,' a source reported, `although there is
nothing wrong with it and he does have permission to live in Ashgabad. They
simply don't want him to live there and are looking for problems.' The KNB
told Shokhrat that he is to return tomorrow, 14 March, and threatened him with
being sent to the holding centre for those without papers (where he can be
detained for up to 15 days).

Piriyev has already been publicly identified by the authorities as a criminal in a
newspaper attack last year. The Ashgabad paper Adalat of 24 September 1999
listed him among a number of religious minority leaders `involved in such
criminal activities as illegal delivery and distribution of [imported religious
books and videos] and conducting regular meetings in private flats'. (END)