16 January 2020

TURKMENISTAN: Raids, searches, fines, threats, beatings, headscarf bans

Protestant women celebrating Christmas are the latest victims of police raids on worship meetings. Officers searched the home, seized telephones, forced the women to write statements and took photos and fingerprints. Officials often summon and threaten people known to be religious (including men who attend mosque, women who wear headscarves, and Jehovah's Witnesses). Eight Jehovah's Witnesses were fined in 2019. [read more...]

14 January 2020

TAJIKISTAN: Conscientious objection "a major crime"?

Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Jovidon Bobojonov has been held since October 2019 by the military despite offering to do alternative civilian service, even though the government claimed in March 2019 to the UN Human Rights Committee that an alternative service law is being prepared. [read more...]

9 January 2020

KAZAKHSTAN: 153 administrative prosecutions in 2019

In 153 known administrative prosecutions in 2019, 129 individuals (1 twice), 2 religious communities and 1 company were punished for worship meetings, offering religious literature and items (including online), sharing or teaching faith, posting religious material online, praying in mosques, inviting a child to meetings, or inadequate security measures. Yet an official claimed "We have no problems in the area of freedom of conscience". [read more...]

20 December 2019

DONBAS: Luhansk: Gospel of John, Baptist books banned

The unrecognised Luhansk People's Republic banned 12 Baptist books as "extremist", including an edition of the Gospel of John in the widely-used Russian Synodal translation. Officials refused to say why the books are "extremist" and what will happen to those found with them. The ban came a week after the Supreme Court overturned a court order to destroy seized Baptist books. [read more...]

19 December 2019

TAJIKISTAN: Muslim faces 18-year charges, Jehovah's Witness prisoner denied Bible, Pastor freed

Prosecutors are seeking 18 years' jail for Sadriddin Mulloyev at his Dushanbe trial for membership of Muslim movement Tabligh Jamaat. Jehovah's Witness Shamil Khakimov, who is 68, failed to overturn his seven and a half-year strict regime jail term. Prison authorities still deny him a Bible. Protestant Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov was freed on 17 December months before the end of his three-year jail term. However, an associated church in Konibodom remains closed after the regime forcibly closed it in 2017 after raiding and torturing church members, as well as firing them from their jobs. [read more...]

18 December 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: 24 prisoners of conscience, 6 restricted freedom sentences

In addition to one Muslim on trial in Almaty, 24 individuals - all Sunni Muslim men - are known to be jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Three Protestants were given jail terms in absentia. A further 6 individuals are serving restricted freedom sentences. A further 15 are under post-jailing bans on specific activity. A further 27 who completed sentences still have their bank accounts blocked. [read more...]

17 December 2019

RUSSIA: Can homes now be freely used for worship meetings?

A Constitutional Court ruling may reduce fines for using private homes for meetings for worship. This largely relies on officials, one Christian lawyer stating that when he and his colleagues attempt to resolve cases "some [inspectors] work with common sense, others do not". [read more...]

11 December 2019

UZBEKISTAN: Obstacles, pressure, bribe demands obstruct legal status applications

Officials registered a handful of religious communities in late 2019, but many others complain of official obstacles. Some cannot get Land Registry or Mahalla approval, others face demands for bribes. Seven Jehovah's Witness communities were rejected. Catholics await registration for a sixth parish. Police pressured Shia Muslims in Bukhara to halt a petition to reopen a closed Shia mosque. [read more...]