New leaders in Turkmenistan may continue policies that hurt Christians

By December 26, 2006

Turkmenistan (MNN) — Christians aren’t hopeful that policies will change in Turkmenistan, a country that ranks 13 on Open Doors’ World Watch list of nations that allow persecution of Christians. Turkmenistan’s President and dictator Saparmurat Niyazov (shaper-mah-raht Nyah-zahv) died suddenly last week of a heart attack.

According to Protestant victims of of Niyazov’s policies, transition leaders have already praised Niyazov and his policies and have vowed to continue them. According to Forum 18 News, hostility to religious freedom was an edict of Niyazov, but that doesn’t mean his subordinates were merely implementing his will. Many in his government share his views.

Farid Tukhbatullin, of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, says “the overwhelming majority of officials of the police and MSS secret police have a vested interest in preserving the current situation, under which they enjoy unlimited rights.”

While the evangelical church is small, pray for their safety and that God would work in the hearts of leaders in Turkmenistan to allow more religious freedom.

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