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Bakhrom Kholmatov, with his wife Gulnora
Photo: World Watch Monitor

A Tajik church leader who was serving a three-year sentence for "singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred" has been moved to a prison located 350 kilometres from his home and placed in solitary confinement. Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov was sentenced in July under the Tajik Criminal Code (Article 189). A previous report on the arrest and sentencing of this church leader can be found here.

The 42-year-old pastor, who is married with three children, was arrested on unspecified charges during an April 10th raid on his Khujand city church by the National Security Committee secret police. After his transfer to a prison in the city of Yavan, south of the capital Dushanbe, Tajik authorities stated that it was "normal procedure" to place convicts in solitary confinement for 15 days before they are released into the main prison.

Officers interrogated and beat up other church members at the time of the arrest, and removed Christian songbooks which they described as "extremist." The secret police, alongside other law enforcement agencies and the State Committee for Religious Affairs, also raided affiliated churches in northern Tajikistan's Sogd region in February; and, in March, officials closed down a church in Konibodom (about 80 kilometres east of Khujand) after interrogating and torturing church members.

Pastor Bakrom's accusers may be seeking to cause him harm, yet our Almighty God promises in His Word to ultimately turn this situation around for the good of those who love Him, while also orchestrating a plan that will save many lives (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). Even though false allegations are being presented, pray that the Lord will work out His greater purposes -- powerfully mediating on behalf of the imprisoned pastor and speaking truth into the hearts of those in need of eternal salvation. Although the security of believers in this country are seriously under threat, may they be reminded that true safety and rest lie in the One who provides supernatural help, strength and comfort in times of need.

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Country Information

8,990,874 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Tajik (84.4), Uzbek (11.9), Other (3.7)

Religion (%)
Muslim (98), Other (2)

President Emomali Rahmon (1994)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Civil law system

Source: CIA World Factbook

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Tajikistan News

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