The 5-5-5 Challenge: A Story of Persecution in Turkmenistan
A group of about six officials – two of them in police uniforms – raided Begjan Shirmedov’s home in Dashoguz in the North of Turkmenistan on Sunday 23 September. They arrived during a house meeting of his Baptist congregation, Path of Faith Church, attended by about 15 church members. The officials told them that religious activity without state registration is illegal. The believers replied that they have been attempting to obtain registration in vain since 2004. Police searched every room in the house and confiscated all Christian literature and CDs. When they asked where the literature had come from, family members insisted they had collected the books over many years as they have been Christians since the mid-1990s. About 15 church members, women and children included, were taken away to be questioned. According to a Forum 18 report “Begjan Shirmedov was dragged out of the house by his collar”. Begjan is 77 years old, an elderly man who according to the Turkmen tradition should be treated with more respect. “They treated an elderly man like a tramp in front of his wife, his children, church members and neighbours without fear of having to answer for their actions.” Meanwhile the other church members were fingerprinted and questioned about their religious activity. Later that day they were released.
Ready for this week’s challenge