|Persecution Type:||Dictatorial Paranoia|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Government:||Presidential Republic; Authoritarian|
|Leader:||President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow|
Turkmenistan is extremely repressive for religious minorities. No religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed. Government paranoia results in the constant monitoring of religious activities, including tight restrictions on printing or importing Christian materials.
And the police, secret services and local authorities raid non-registered churches and infiltrate church services. Even Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches may experience Sunday services being monitored. The Islamic culture also makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult. Given increased nationalism and the views of the dictatorial president, the pressure on Christians in this former Soviet republic will likely remain high.
It is very common for members of Protestant churches to be regarded as followers of an alien sect aiming to depose the government—reinforcing the government’s need to control and eradicate Christians. Indigenous Muslims who convert to Christianity are most persecuted, including pressure and occasional physical violence from families, friends and local community attempting to force them to return to their former faith. Some converts are even locked up by their families for long periods of time, beaten and may eventually be expelled from their communities. In areas where churches have not been registered, Christians suffer repeatedly from acts of Christian persecution, including police raids, threats, arrests and fines.
Ever since a new law on religious organizations and religious freedom was introduced in March 2016, Turkmenistan authorities have exerted tighter controls on church life. All religious entities are required to re-register, but evangelical churches have been repeatedly denied registration.
In April 2018, a house meeting of converts was raided. Everyone present was arrested, taken to a police station and questioned for several hours. After the questioning, all were released, however group members have remained under strict police surveillance ever since.
Christians have reported intimidation by teachers and police in schools, according to regional news agency Forum 18. School officials have reportedly brought in Muslim clerics to intimidate non-Muslim children.
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