KESTON INSTITUTE, OXFORD, UK
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KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 5 December 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on
religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
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TURKMENISTAN: REPRISALS RESTART AGAINST PROTESTANTS
After a week when the authorities were easing their
punitive measures against those who took part in a
service of the Protestant Word of Life church raided
by police and the security police in the Turkmen
capital Ashgabad on 15 November, Keston News Service
has learnt that the authorities in a small village
have taken revenge on three villagers who had
travelled to Ashgabad for the service. Sources in
Turkmenistan told Keston on 5 December that one of
those summoned by the local police was sentenced to
15 days in prison, while the other two were
threatened and then released. They added that the
Ashgabad authorities probably telephoned the
authorities in the village of Deinau 35 kilometres
(20 miles) north west of the town of Turkmenabad
(formerly Charjou) to inform them that the three had
participated in an "illegal" religious meeting.


TURKMENISTAN: REPRISALS RESTART AGAINST PROTESTANTS

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

After a week when the authorities were easing their
punitive measures against those who took part in a
service of the Protestant Word of Life church raided
by police and the security police in the Turkmen
capital Ashgabad on 15 November (see KNS 29 November
2001), Keston News Service has learnt that the
authorities in a small village have taken revenge on
three villagers who had travelled to Ashgabad for the
service. Sources in Turkmenistan told Keston on 5
December that one of those summoned by the local
police was sentenced to 15 days in prison, while the
other two were threatened and then released. They
added that the Ashgabad authorities probably
telephoned the authorities in the village of Deinau
35 kilometres (20 miles) north west of the town of
Turkmenabad (formerly Charjou) to inform them that
the three had participated in an "illegal" religious
meeting.

Sources, who identified the imprisoned man as Murad
(last name unknown), say he was beaten at the police
station after being summoned on about 2 December. It
is not known which article of the administrative code
he was sentenced under, if any. Summoned and
threatened at the same time were Nurmurad (last name
unknown) and Jamilya (her last name is also unknown).

Murad has reportedly been harassed in the past by the
village elders for his membership of the Word of Life
church. Two years ago he was beaten, and earlier this
year village elders threatened to have the gas supply
to his home cut off and even to expel him from the
village.

Keston has so far been unable to verify the reports
of the harassment of the three individually or to
seek the response of the local police as to why they
appear to be taking revenge against believers who
attended a religious meeting in a private home.

Meanwhile, reports from Ashgabad say three local
women who had been present at the raided meeting have
been summoned to the religion department of the
hyakimat (local administration). Svetlana
Annamukhamedova, Natalya Kiselyova and Oksana
Bachegova have been summoned in the past few days and
interrogated. This is the third reported
interrogation of Annamukhamedova since 21 November.

"The authorities have started harassments again, but
they have changed the motivation for doing so," one
source told Keston from Ashgabad. "Now they tell
everyone they call for meetings that they regard
sects as possible chains of organisations like al-
Qaeda [the terror group led by Osama bin Laden] and
chase after them as those sects are potential
troublemakers. Among sects they count the Living
Word church." Another Protestant source dismissed the
authorities' allegations against the church as
"ridiculous". (END)

Copyright (c) 2001 Keston Institute. All rights
reserved.