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TURKMENISTAN

TAJIKISTAN

Population: 5.2 million Majority Religion: Islam (96%) Christian population: 95,000 Persecution Category: Severe

Population: 7.1 million Majority Religion: Islam (98%) Christian population: 73,000 Persecution Category: Limited

Turkmenistan is mainly desert, flanked by two populated strips of land. Despite large natural gas and cotton resources, most people live in poverty. Turkmenistan is governed by one of the most repressive regimes in the world and human rights violations are extensive. Denial of freedom of religion is intertwined with denial of the rights to freedoms of assembly, speech, expression and movement. The state controls all religious leaders and communities and imposes severe restrictions on religious education and sharing beliefs.

Tajikistan is the smallest country in Central Asia, with 93% of its area being mountainous. Some 80% of the population is ethnic Kyrgyz,16% Uzbek and 1% Russian. It is the poorest country in the region and is still recovering from a five-year civil war in the 1990s that claimed 50,000 lives.

Most Christians in Turkmenistan are Orthodox and are of Russian, Ukrainian or Armenian ethnicity. The government is hostile to any independent Christian activity and evangelicals are targeted by police. They face arrest, interrogation, fines and occasionally imprisonment, especially for meeting in unregistered gatherings, and religious literature is confiscated. Summer camps have been raided by police and teenagers detained. Ethnic Turkmen Christians are few but have increased in recent years to over 1,000.

All religious activity outside state control (including Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Jehovah’s Witness) has been targeted by the state. A Parental Responsibility Law includes a total ban on participation by people under the age of 18 in any religious activity, apart from funerals. Most Christians are Russian Orthodox but there is a small native Tajik church, numbering over 1,000 members. Churches and leaders are under constant pressure from government officials to give information about their activities. A law introduced in 2012 strengthened the government’s control even further by stipulating that religious communities would need government permission before having foreign Christian visitors.

Central Asia

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Church in Chains Global Guide  

The Church in Chains Global Guide lists 60 countries where Christians face persecution because of their faith. The Global Guide divides the...

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