Religious discrimination increases in Dashoguz, Turkmenistan

By October 2, 2012

Turkmenistan (MNN) — Multiple raids occurred recently in Turkmenistan's northern city of Dashoguz, noted Forum 18 News Service. The latest attack was particularly violent, leaving the hands of a 68-year-old woman beaten and bloodied. Her 77-year-old husband was literally dragged out of their home by his shirt collar, detained, and questioned by police.

"I am very sad that this lawless behavior took place without regard for the individual," one believer told Forum 18.

Begjan and Klara Shirmedov were gathered in their home with 15 members of the Path of Faith Church when police broke in, questioned congregation members, and seized religious literature. Officers seized Begjan Shirmedov, dragging him out of the house. Forum 18 said that when Klara Shirmedov spoke up, police beat her hands until they bled. Police then took church members to their station for questioning and threatened them with prosecution.

Ask God to heal Klara's wounds.

This attack comes on the heels of another raided home church meeting in the city. Forum 18 said three believers were fined in this incident, and one was banned from leaving the country. When Oleg Piyashev tried to board a plane last week, intending to return to his family in Russia, officials prevented him from leaving the country. Later, Piyashev was told that even though his documentation was correct, he was "temporarily banned from travelling."

Forum 18 said that a number of believers are currently on Turkmenistan's "exit black list," including a pastor who was imprisoned for two years. Another leader had been imprisoned from 1998 to 2002 to "punish him for his faith." His wife and nine children were barred from leaving the country in 2008. They tried with no avail to get an explanation from the government, Forum 18 noted.

"They replied most recently…to say we are still banned from travelling, but again gave no reasons," the believer complained to Forum 18.

Turkmenistan is #18 on the Open Doors USA World Watch List, a compilation of 50 nations with the worst Christian persecution. Police and other officials put Christian activities under strict surveillance, making it difficult for believers to spread the Gospel. Pray that doors would be opened in this restrictive society.

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