PROTESTANT PASTOR SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN TAJIKISTAN FOR "EXTREMISM"
Interfax-Religiia, 7 August 2017
A pastor of the Korean Christian church "Sonmin Sonbogym" ["Grace Good News"] in northern Tajikistan was sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of extremism.
Local news media reported that the sentence of the clergyman was issued in late July but it has become known only now. It is reported that 42-year-old Bakhrom Kholmatov was arrested on 10 April of this year in Khujand after an inspection of the protestant church with Korean roots.
It was stated in an official report of a law enforcement agency that the man was arrested on suspicion of extremism.
Tajikistan authorities maintain that the Christian center "Sonmin Sonbogym" does not have official registration and therefore its activity on the territory of the country is illegal. However the website belonging to the Korean church reports that the center "Sonmin Snbogym" was officially registered in 2009 in the Committee for Religious Affairs of Tajikistan.
The Christian center has operated in Tajikistan since 1993 and before the adoption of a new law on religious activity it functioned in the capacity of a missionary organization.
At the present time over 70 non-Muslim centers and organizations are active in Tajikistan.
Recently, Tajikistan has been subjected to criticism for infringing the rights of believers. Thus the American Commission on International Religious Freedom considers Tajikistan a "country of particular concern" in the matter of guaranteeing freedom of religious confession. The authors of the report write that in Tajikistan, persecution of citizens for religious reasons is continuing. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 August 2017)
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