A Story of Persecution from Azerbaijan
A group of about 25 policemen, officials and journalists raided the morning service of the SDA congregation in Sumgait without a warrant. They stopped the service, filmed all the participants against their wishes, and confiscated personal Bibles, literature, CDs and a personal laptop. They were there for about three hours; each individual church member was interrogated individually and asked how much they were paid for being a Christian. The congregation was told that they cannot meet for worship until they have received state registration. Church members showed the State Committee document confirming that their registration application is being considered, but that did not change the situation. Several days later the pastor of the SDA congregation and his assistant were fined for unregistered religious activities.
Eight days later, George Sobor, a member of the SDA congregation in Baku was not allowed to return to Azerbaijan after a visit abroad. He was accused of ‘religious propaganda’ by foreigners, which is illegal in Azerbaijan. (Art. 300.0.4) Only after eight weeks on 11 February he was finally able to return to his wife Aida and their three children. “Our children had lost hope of my return”, he told Forum 18. “They cried with joy on my return!”