IRLA Appeals for Religious Freedom in Turkmenistan

News April 2001


April 10, 2001 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan .... [Jonathan Gallagher/IRLA News]

Victor Krushenitsky, IRLA secretary-general for the Euro-Asia region, has issued an appeal to the Turkmenistan government to respect religious freedom after a wave of violations targeting minority churches.

"We call on president Niyazov to uphold human rights and restore religious freedom," says Krushenitsky. "We are appealing to international organizations and the world community to stop this persecution."

Since the early 1990s the government of Turkmenistan has increased its hostile action against religious minorities including Baptists, Pentecostals and Adventists. In 1996, the national government amended its rules for re-registration of religious organizations; so far, only Sunni Muslims and the Russian Orthodox Church have been able to gain official recognition.

On November 13, 1999, a wrecking crew arrived at the Adventist Church building in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, and began demolishing the church as worship services were in progress. As the destruction of the church proceeded, the Ministry of Justice officially notified the Church that they had been "deprived of registration."

Since then, private worship groups have been broken up, members harassed by local government authorities, and an Adventist pastor was arrested and detained for three days.

Turkmenistan has been cited for its religious freedom violations by a wide range of governments and organizations.

The IRLA encourages letters of protest to be sent to:

His Excellency Orazov Meret
Ambassador of Turkmenistan 
Embassy of Turkmenistan 
2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW 
Washington DC 20008